These changes which again are due to recalibration in the way the size of economies are calculated (more on this later) are being tagged on to the annual “adjustment” to the EU budget, which is basically normal procedure.
However, this also means that EU leaders will have to agree to an “amending budget” via a decision taken by Qualified Majority Voting. This also means that the UK might have some chance of “blocking” the change if it can get other allies on board.
Below is the voting balance, if all “net losers” are clubbed together under QMV.
“Malta is not surprised that the EU has asked for this top-up… but we are still seeking clarifications on how the [Commission] calculated this figure”.
“An in-depth examination is needed… we will see whether it will be really necessary to apply the new method to calculate [national] contributions. In any case, this doesn’t imply an immediate payment.”
So hardly an endorsement of the UK’s tough position, but there may be enough support for a delay or some alternative arrangement such as paying the surcharges in installments. Meanwhile, Cameron did at least get some support from an unexpected source… France (which has received a €1bn rebate). The Telegraph cites former French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche as saying that:
“I think it’s ludicrous to actually go and punish the one country that has suffered the reform. The results are showing up now – the unemployment rate has gone down to half what it is in France. The growth rate is four times what it is in France – and we go and punish the British? It’s madness”.
Sadly for Cameron, Lellouche won’t have a vote.Open Europe blog team