THE EUROPEAN Commission yesterday called for its budget to be increased because it overspent in 2012 and now has bills to pay which it cannot currently afford.
It demanded an additional €11.2bn (£10bn) from member states arguing that the countries and other recipients of cash from Brussels have spent the money on EU-backed projects through 2012 and are waiting to be funded as expected.
“This cannot come as a surprise – in recent years, voted EU budgets have been increasingly below the real needs based on estimates from Member States. This is creating a snowballing effect of unpaid claims transferred onto the following year,” said European commissioner Janusz Lewandowski.
“The ostrich policy can only work for so long: postponing payment of a bill will not make it go away. Not one cent of the extra amount we request today is for the EU institutions, it will merely allow the EU to pay its share of infrastructure or science projects that member states agreed to start in the past.”
But the UK rejected the increased demands.
This is “a totally unacceptable request from the Commission when most EU member states are taking difficult decisions to reduce public spending,” said Treasury minister Greg Clark.
“It is extraordinary that the Commission should demand an increase in the EU budget that is bigger than the rescue package that was agreed for Cyprus earlier is week.”
States including Britain have been very vocal in trying to cap European demands for increased funds. The Commission argues this attitude has caused the problem – it wanted to spend €137.8bn this year but €5bn less than that was approved by member states, leaving it with a hole to fill.