EU leaders will try to settle differences at a summit on 22 and 22 November. As things currently stand, a deal looks unlikely, with David Cameron in a particularly tricky position (for just how tricky, see here). Today we got a taste of things to come: the Brussels institutions launched a three-pronged attack on economic common sense.
- The European Parliament voted for 6.8% increase to the EU’s 2013 budget (which is subject to Qualified Majority Voting and co-decision between national ministers and MEPs), thereby rejecting member states’ compromise 2.79% increase, instead going with the Commission.
- In a report, the EP also backed a 5% increase to the EU’s long-term budget (and a lot bigger increase if off-balance sheet items are included), in line with the European Commission’s original proposal. This proposal has been rejected by all net contributing member states (which doesn’t mean that the net contributors agree amongst themselves).
- Finally, the Commission said today that it needs to amend the 2012 EU budget, since there's not enough cash left. If you’re a government on an EU-mandated austerity programme - or a a household - you’re forced to prioritise and find savings when there’s not enough money in the pot. If you’re an EU institution you ask for an additional €9bn (with roughly €3.1bn from fines imposed on member states, meaning that national governments will have to put up €5.9bn in total).
So if the EP/Commisison 2012 and 2013 proposals stand, which they probably won’t (we’ll return to the long-term budget), UK taxpayers would be forced to cough up another £2bn or so (£1.3bn increase for 2013 + £700m extra funds for this year), depending a bit on exchange rate used and the UK's pre-rebate share of the EU budget (both vary).
And those people who want the UK to leave the EU just got some additional killer campaign material to play with.
Well done Brussels.