Lords Committee questions Chancellor's claim of rebate on £1.7bn EU bill
While the UK continues to consider the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, the House of Lords EU Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs has written to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, asking the Government to justify claims that it “halved the bill” for a payment from the UK to the EU Budget of £1.7bn (€2.1bn).
The Committee has also asked for a full account of the circumstances behind the bill being imposed on the UK, how the calculation was arrived at, and when the Government were aware that such a payment would be due.
The letter also welcomes the new European Commission proposal to push back Member States' repayment deadlines until 2015.
Commenting, Lord Harrison, Chair of the Committee, said:
“First of all the Committee would like to make clear in our letter that it welcomes the new EU proposal to give Member States more time to make these payments. This is a sensible adjustment to the rules, which will give much needed breathing space to some EU countries.
What remains of concern to us is the claim by the Chancellor that the UK payment was effectively halved because the EU rebate was applied. It is our view that the rebate was never in doubt, calling into question the factual accuracy of the Chancellor's statement.
The Committee is also disappointed by the Treasury's blinkered approach to budget negotiations, and its failure to do more to draw attention to the fundamental flaws in the budgetary process.”
The Committee's letter is available here.