Tory pressure thwarts big EU spending hike
Posted, November 21, 2011 @ 13:00
A strong negotiating stance by Conservative MEPs, backed by Downing Street, has thwarted an attempt by the European Parliament to push through a major increase in the EU's budget next year.
Lengthy budget talks ended at 3am Saturday with settlement on a 2,02 per cent budget increase - close to a budget freeze in real terms at 129.86 billion euros (£111 billion).
Previously the European Parliament, in defiance of pleas from Conservatives to accept a standstill because of the gobal economic crisis, had maintained demands for a budget increase of 5.2 per cent or 5.7 billion pounds for 2012.
But three-way talks involving negotiators from the parliament, European Commission and EU Council have now ended at a much lower figure.
James Elles, budget spokesman and lead negotiator for Britain's Conservative MEPs, said: "Our consistent argument in favour of a freeze in the budget has succeeded in preventing an increase that would have been outlandish and unacceptable in such tough economic times.
"The Prime Minister greatly helped and led the way by stating early in the process that a standstill had to be the goal. He then rallied other key nations to that view, and in negotiations that pressure bore down heavily on the parliament's unrealistic ambitions.
"To trim spending is the only responsible way when sovereign debt is undermining the euro and the global economy. Our persistence is winning over other groups and MEPs to our philosphy that the EU needs to spend just as much effort on saving funds as spending them.