EU leaders agree a 'sober' budget, Dutch prime minister satisfied
Friday 08 February 2013
EU leaders on Friday agreed a budget that will take the community through to 2020, and includes a cut in spending for the first time in the body’s history.
Total spending will reach €997bn, some €38bn below the current budget. At the same time, the Netherlands claims it is holding on to its €1bn discount, a key issue for prime minister Mark Rutte when he entered into the negotiations.
The actual rebate is being cut from €1bn to €728m, but the Netherlands will also get a reduction on its annual value-added tax bill from Brussels which will make up the difference.
Although this figure will be variable, Dutch officials put it at some €359m, Nos television said.
‘Of course you don’t get your way completely when you are dealing with 27 countries,’ an official said. ‘But I think as the Netherlands we can be happy.’
The prime minister also insisted he had not threatened to veto the deal if the Dutch conditions were not met. ‘I am a tough negotiator and I think people realise I am passionate about what I do,’ he said. ‘Then you don’t have to make threats.’
The Netherlands does face an €80m cut in the amount of money it receives from Brussels for levying EU customs and farm taxes. The credit is being cut from 25% to 20%.
The Netherlands worked closely with Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Britain during the negotiations, the prime minister said.
The new budget is likely to hit Dutch farmers particularly hard, farming organisation LTO Nederland said on Friday evening.
Dutch farmers will face a subsidy cut of 8% to 9%, the organisation said. French and German farmers face a cut of around 1%, LTO Nederland said.
More on the EU budget