07 SEP 2010
By Andrew Rettman
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The UK has hit back at the European Commission in a public discussion over its EU rebate. Meanwhile, the largest new EU members, the Visegrad countries, have formed a bloc for the upcoming budget talks.
In a statement using the same vocabulary as EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski over the weekend, a Downing Street spokesman on Monday (6 September) said: "The UK abatement remains fully justified. It's a matter of fairness."
"Without the rebate, the UK's net contribution as a percentage of national income would be twice as big as France's, and one and a half times bigger than Germany's. This is because of expenditure distortions from policies such as the CAP [EU farm aid]."
The communique noted the UK would have paid €75 billion over 2007 to 2013 without its "abatement," compared to France's €46 billion and Germany's €74 billion. With the rebate, the UK is paying the least out of the three on €38 billion.
The message came after Mr Lewandowski told German media the rebate is "no longer justified" because farm spending is to go down. His spokesman later told Brussels-based journalists the commissioner is not quite saying the rebate should be "scrapped," however.