Britain rejects point blank EU 'deal' on budget peer review

8th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain rejected point blank on Tuesday EU claims that it will allow Brussels to vet its budgets before domestic approval, as Europe takes tentative steps towards cross-border "economic government."

"The budget will be presented to parliament first," Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, said in a statement.

"There is no question of anyone other than MPs seeing it first. Once the chancellor has presented it to parliament, it is of course publicly available," he underlined.

Hoban was forced to respond after EU president Herman Van Rompuy and a French diplomat presented the outcome of late-night Monday talks on the issue as a fait accompli.

Van Rompuy said ministers agreed during a meeting of a "task force" on economic governance to share budget concepts before they are fixed, giving "time to adjust before the budget is approved."

Brussels wants to be able to re-jig national spending priorities to fit with the broader landscape of competitive imbalances within intertwined EU economies.

But Britain does not want any of the task force's recommendations to apply to countries, like itself, that are outside the eurozone.

When pressed on "specificities" Van Rompuy referred to in the timing of Britain's budget presentation, a French diplomat said that London would present its plans "not after, (but) before or simultaneously" to Westminster.

Conservative finance minister George Osborne insisted last month that he had made it clear on his first visit to Brussels since taking office that he would not budge on the issue.

"I made it absolutely clear, as did several other people around the table, that there was no question of in any way supplanting the role of national parliaments," he said then.

© 2010 AFP

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