The Netherlands will keep its €1bn rebate from the EU as a major net payer, under new budget proposals put forward by European Council president Herman Van Rompuy.
The two–day summit on the EU’s multi-year spending plan kicked off on Thursday evening after several hours of delay because Van Rompuy needed more time for preparatory talks, news agency ANP reported.
Van Rompuy’s revised proposal includes a commitment to maintain the Dutch rebate, which is due to expire in 2014.
However, the deal would require the Netherlands to pay ‘several hundred million more euros’ to Brussels and there may also be a reduction in the amount of compensation the Netherlands and other countries get for collecting European customs and farm taxes, ANP said.
This may well be unacceptable for the Netherlands, the Financieele Dagblad said.
The Dutch parliament sent prime minister Mark Rutte to Brussels with two mandates: to cap the EU’s spending plans and ensure the €1bn Dutch rebate continues.
The European Commission wants to increase the EU’s budget by 5% or €1bn, but the Netherlands, Britain and other western European countries are opposed to this.
Parliament on Wednesday debated the Dutch approach to Europe, with a majority of MPs calling for a reduction in the EU’s multi-year spending plans. They say at a time when EU countries are being forced to make painful spending cuts, it is hard to justify an increase in the budget for Brussels.
Rutte warned on Thursday he is not sure European leaders will reach agreement on the EU’s next multi-year budget, saying the talks will be a ‘real battle’.
‘We want a budget which is modern and sober, and, as the Netherlands, to keep the rebate we have,’ Rutte told reporters on his arrival in Brussels.
Asked what he thought of British prime minister David Cameron’s threat to use his veto, Rutte said he believed ‘you should keep a loaded gun in your pocket’. ‘If you put it on the table, you will put the talks under such pressure that you won‘t get anywhere, Rutte said.
‘I do not know if we will reach an agreement now. It is very complex,’ Rutte said. ‘But I have stressed to my European colleagues that if we can’t manage it in one go, we must not allow the atmosphere between us to degenerate… let us keep calm and start again in January.’