EU budget chief: UK rebate ‘should end’

by Peter Wozniak

Britain’s rebate from its contributions to the EU ought to be repealed, according to the man in charge of the Union’s 140 billion euro budget.

Janusz Lewandowski, in an interview with the German newspaper Handesblatt, argued that the time when it was appropriate for the UK to have its rebate had long since passed.

He said: “The rebate for Great Britain has lost its original validity,

“Per capita income in Britain has risen substantially since the 1980s.”

The rebate was gained under Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and exempted Britain from paying £5 billion into
EU coffers last year.

At the time it was instituted, the UK was one of the EU’s less affluent members, and Mr Lewandowski argued that because economic conditions had changed, Britain should no longer be afforded special status in its contributions.

Britain, along with Germany, is one of the few net contributors to the EU budget.

Mr Lewandowski’s statements will reignite arguments over Britain’s relationship with the EU, an issue the coalition government has deliberately avoided putting in the spot-light, as it remains a hugely divisive issue both within the Conservative party and between it and its coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.

David Cameron’s stance on the EU since entering office as prime minister has been characterised by the government as one of ‘constructive engagement’.