Leaked: Britain’s £1.7bn EU bill repayment plan

David Cameron’s knickers have been in a thorough twist over the EU’s £1.7bn bill, and they’re about to be twisted further.

The top-up bill – the result of a recalibration of GDP calculations – comes in addition to the £8bn the UK now pays to the EU annually.

The prime minister has stated he is not going to pay the full whack, describing it as “unprecedented” while George Osborne has labelled the sum “unacceptable”.

But they may be forced to pay it yet.

A meeting in Brussels today, which the government is billing as “emergency meeting”, but is in fact a standard timetabled EU meeting, will give member states the opportunity to quarrel over the repayments.

But ahead of today’s meeting, a leaked document indicates the direction the debate may take.

Italy, the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, has tabled a measure that could allow Britain and the Netherlands, which has the second-highest tab, to pay their bills in instalments, interest free.

Here’s the key section identified by the Financial Times: “The Council therefore invites the Commission to come forward with a proposal for a targeted and limited amendment to the Council regulation…to take account of such exceptional circumstances. This should allow for the member state concerned to defer the required payment over a reasonable period of time.”

There is no mention of Britain’s bill being reduced.

The British government is likely to reject the instalment plan, and Cameron has already said the UK is not going to make any payments before December, however, the UK’s European allies are dropping like flies, and the Netherlands is said to be considering the option.

If the Dutch agree to the repayment plan, the UK will be hard-pressed to talk its way out of paying its tax.

On the plus side for Cameron, there isn’t a strict deadline for the repayments, so the stuff about no payments before December may yet work out for him.

Nonetheless, several member states want to see the repayments completed by the end of 2015, particularly those receiving EU refunds, which Britain’s payments will contribute to.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Cameron and Osborne brought this on us by including prostitution and illegal drugs as part of GDP.

    This moronic move meant that our GDP appeared to go up - and so did our bill to the EU.

    So, they managed to lie about increases in GDP (because there was no real change, even though the figures look better) and get us a £1.7bn bill in the process.

    They are the Laurel and Hardy of economics - a more incompetent pair of buffoons it would be hard to imagine.

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