'Unacceptable' for Brussels to increase 2011 EU budget: Britain

18th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

New British finance minister George Osborne called on Tuesday for a freeze to the EU's 2011 budget, saying it was "unacceptable" for Brussels to demand a huge increase.

"I put it to (my fellow ministers) that there should be a cash freeze in the budget," Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer Osborne told reporters in an early confrontation with the European Union.

"I was not alone in saying this was unacceptable," he said of a European Commission proposal to increase the 27-nation bloc's budget for next year by "six percent, including 4.5 percent of admin costs."

He said "most European countries are trying to cut admin costs at the moment (and that) ... many are having to accept cuts" ordered by the commission, notably Greece, Spain and Portugal to put their finances in order.

"For the UK, if passed, that would represent a 600-million increase in our gross contribution to the EU," he said, without specifying whether he was counting in pounds sterling or in euros.

The 2011 budget worth 142.6 billion euros (176.4 billion dollars) foresees a 4.5 percent increase in administrative costs for EU institutions, including 2.9 percent for the commission itself, with the creation of new high-paying posts.

The EU and its European member governments are already engaged in a tussle over a mooted salary restructuring for some 50,000 European functionaries.

© 2010 AFP

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