EU chiefs tell Bri­tain: Hand over £1bn more

Daily Mail - - News - By Mario Ledwith Brus­sels Cor­re­spon­dent

‘It will in­fu­ri­ate Euroscep­tics’

BRUS­SELS ex­pects the UK to pay an ex­tra £1bil­lion to the EU next year, doc­u­ments have re­vealed.

In a con­tro­ver­sial move, EU of­fi­cials have out­lined a huge in­crease in spend­ing, which they ex­pect the UK to help fund de­spite vot­ing to leave.

Calls for Bri­tish tax­pay­ers to give even more to the bloc’s an­nual bud­get will in­fu­ri­ate Euroscep­tics amid the row over the huge Brexit bill be­ing de­manded by Brus­sels.

But EU of­fi­cials said ne­go­ti­a­tions about the UK’s de­par­ture from the bloc had no im­me­di­ate ef­fect and that pay­ments are still ex­pected while it re­mains a mem­ber. A draft bud­get pro­duced by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion re­vealed that EU spend­ing will in­crease by 8.1 per cent in 2018 to £126bil­lion.

This would in­volve a to­tal UK con­tri­bu­tion of around £15.1bil­lion af­ter Bri­tain’s re­bate has been de­ducted – com­pared with pro­jected pay­ments of just over £14bil­lion for this year.

EU chiefs yes­ter­day de­nied that the spend­ing in­creases were ab­nor­mal and said that they were ‘just meet­ing ex­pec­ta­tions’ set out by coun­tries in­clud­ing the UK.

The pro­posed in­crease will in­fu­ri­ate Down­ing Street amid claims that the EU is try­ing to ‘gold plate’ its bud­get be­fore the UK leaves.

Coun­tries across the bloc are in­creas­ingly con­cerned about how the EU will fill the huge hole left when con­tri­bu­tions by the UK, one of the largest net con­trib­u­tors to the bud­get, are stopped.

EU of­fi­cials yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted for the first time that they ‘have no idea what the con­se­quences’ of los­ing the money will be.

Next year’s spend­ing in­crease will see Bri­tish funds used to hand out an es­ti­mated £12mil­lion in ad­di­tional pay­ments to the gold-plated pen­sions schemes of eu­ro­crats.

The in­creases also in­volve pump­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions into the EU’s bat­tle to curb mi­gra­tion.

But the bud­get pro­posal says most of the funds will be used to pay for in­fras­truc­ture and to cre­ate jobs across the bloc.

EU bud­get com­mis­sioner Gun­ther Oet­tinger said the frame­work for 2018 was ‘re­al­is­tic and will meet the chal­lenges be­ing faced by the EU’.

Of­fi­cial Govern­ment fig­ures show that the UK’s gross con­tri­bu­tion to the EU bud­get in 2016 – the lat­est fig­ures avail­able – was £17bil­lion.

The over­all fig­ure paid fell when the £3.9bil­lion re­bate was de­ducted, as well as a fur­ther £4.5bil­lion in EU pay­ments to­wards projects in the UK. The UK’s net con­tri­bu­tion for 2016 was £8.6bil­lion.

The in­creased spend­ing laid out in the draft bud­get does not out­line how much the UK will re­ceive back in pay­ments from Brus­sels.

÷The num­ber of Ir­ish pass­port ap­pli­ca­tions by UK cit­i­zens has soared by 70 per cent this year fol­low­ing the Brexit vote.

Be­tween Jan­uary and March this year, Dublin re­ceived 51,079 ap­pli­ca­tions from North­ern Ire­land and other parts of the UK. In the same pe­riod in 2016, some 30,303 ap­pli­ca­tions were re­ceived.

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