Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron answers questions during a news conference after an EU summit in Brussels October 24, 2014. Photo Credits: Reuters/Christian Hartmann
David Cameron has told British MPs that the UK will not pay “anything like” the €2.1bn (£1.7bn) demanded by the European Union as the row over the payment escalated.
Cameron criticised the fairness of the payment as well as questioning the deadlines set by the European Union, saying that there is “no pressing need to pay the money”. The European Union has given the UK until 1 December to pay.
The demand for the higher fee has come due to changes in the way the UK measures the size of its economy. As a result of this, it has worked out the value of things like illegal activity and prostitution, both of which Britain should have been including in previous measurements in the years gone by. Furthermore, Britain also improved the way it kept track of other aspects of the economy as well as receiving new information about statistics from previous years.
This means that when the UK reported its annual economic prediction for 2013 to Eurostat, it also revised upwards the figures going back to 2002, using estimations of sectors of economic value that it had not been counting up until this year.
Whilst there is now a sense of solidarity against the European Union on this matter within some aspects of the political spectrum in Britain, European ministers are warning of the potential consequences of failing to fulfil the payment by the given deadline. The European Commissioner for Budgets, Jacek Dominik said that the UK government had, in fact had “two formal possibilities to react” to news of the payment and that “at none of those meetings” had it expressed “any concern”, adding that “if you open this act for future negotiations you open up a Pandora’s box”.
Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, told MPs that “the Commission’s handling of this matter has been cack-handed and unacceptable” but that questions must be asked of the British government’s handling of the matter. The argument comes at a politically sensitive time in British politics with an increasing sense of Euro-scepticism within British politics and the timing of the demand has ensured for further debate as to the extent to which Britain should remain involved in the European Union.