воскресенье, 9 ноября 2014 г.

Britain Is Granted Delay in Payment to European Union

By James Kanter


Britain was given the leeway on Friday to defer a payment of 2.1 billion euros, or about $2.6 billion, to the European Union, whose demand had given ammunition to a populist party pressing the country to leave the bloc.

Officials said Britain would receive a rebate of about €1 billion on the payment, an amount that was likely to have been refunded at a later date. As a result, Britain will be able to use that cash to reduce the current bill.

“We have halved the bill, we have delayed the bill,” George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, said following a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels.

But other ministers said Britain would end up paying the entire amount, because it would have already used up €1 billion of its rebate entitlements.

Mr. Osborne “didn’t negotiate a discount today and no discount has been awarded,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, told reporters, according to Reuters.

The deal, which involves a change to European law that will need final approval from member governments, represents a classic European fudge designed to protect the interests of an important member government under intense domestic pressure. But the willingness of the European Union authorities to craft the deal also showed a commitment to helping Prime Minister David Cameron keep a lid on discontent with Europe in Britain.

Mr. Cameron had called the bill “totally unacceptable” and said Britain would not pay it. The charge was portrayed as punishment for Britain’s relative economic success compared with the performance of its European neighbors.

The surcharge, which had been due in full on Dec. 1, was the result of an adjustment of Britain’s membership fees because of changes in accounting methods and the growth in its economy. The revision took place after the European Commission reviewed the economic performance of all member states since 1995.

Under the arrangement negotiated Friday with the European Commission and with European Union finance ministers, Britain would make two interest-free payments before September.

After the meeting in Brussels, European Union finance ministers said in a joint statement that the additional payments would have been “substantial,” that the payment due date of Dec. 1 was “short,” and that those factors could have resulted “in exceptionally high fiscal implications.”

The one-time bill for €2.1 billion, which is in addition to Britain’s annual payment of about €11 billion to the European Union, provoked a furious response in Britain at a time when the U.K. Independence Party, which advocates leaving the bloc of 28 nations, is nipping at the heels of the governing Conservatives, led by Mr. Cameron.

Mr. Cameron has already pledged to renegotiate the terms of British membership of the European Union.


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