Forget Greece, Spain and all the other euro-casualties for a second, there’s another Brussels budgetary crunch developing at the moment, this time over the financing of the EU itself for the next seven years
Talks to agree just exactly how much money should be wasted broke up yesterday with no resolution (many expensive bottles of wine were not, apparently, enough to do the trick), and Britain will be blamed/credited by many.
Not so fast. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Open Europe’s Mats Persson explains:
There will be those on all sides tempted to blame David Cameron for the breakdown in the talks. This is simplistic. As Angela Merkel pointed out at her press conference just now, there were two main groups who disagree — net contributors and net recipients. Within these groups, as Open Europe has consistently highlighted, there are a series of disagreements. From the Danes who want a rebate to Malta who want to be treated as a ‘special’ case. All positions matter since every country has a veto. In total, eleven countries had explicitly threatened to veto the budget in case they couldn’t secure a favourable deal for themselves. Interestingly, France and Germany struggled to reach a common position, with Berlin leaning towards London on several points, including on cutting the EU’s admin spending. So forget the 26 vs. 1 narrative.
Moving forward, David Cameron remains in a very tricky, but far from impossible, position. His negotiation mandate is exceptionally narrow following the Parliamentary vote in which a majority of MPs backed a cut in the EU budget, rather than the freeze Cameron has called for . . .