George Osborne is today expected to argue that the UK will not accept an instalment deal to pay the £1.7bn bill Brussels has demanded in full over the course of 2015, after a spokesman for the Prime Minister said that this would be “unacceptable”.
The chancellor has been sent to negotiate a reduction in the UK’s bill, calculated by statistical authority Eurostat, at a meeting of finance leaders in Brussels. It follows a week of discussions aimed at getting to the bottom of how the bill has been calculated, based on the UK’s gross national income.
EU officials suggested earlier this week that leaders would allow the UK to spread the full bill over several months without incurring interest on the debt. However. a government spokesman said last night that the scale of the £1.7bn payment is unacceptable and no such deal will be agreed.
Osborne’s meeting comes as the UK’s own commissioner in Europe, Lord Hill, urged Westminster’s politicians “to calm the situation down”, and to “look at a practical solution to the challenges that various member states face” following the large bills.