Media reports about the amount of money the Netherlands and Germany will have to make over to the EU in the coming years are ‘misleading’ and ‘lies’, budget commissioner Gunther Oettinger told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
Oettinger was reacting to articles in the Financieele Dagblad and Financial Times which said Dutch and German contributions are rising sharply following changes to the EU budget rules and Brexit.
The FD said the Dutch contribution will rise 62.5% to €13bn by 2027, a figure described by finance minister Wopke Hoekstra as ‘unacceptable’. ‘We will not agree to this, let this be clear,’ Hoekstra said.
Earlier, the FT said Germany’s gross contribution is set to go up to €33bn.
Oettinger told reporters suggestions that Germany’s budget bill would double to €33bn are not in line with the numbers discussed by the commission with Berlin. He said the German net contribution would be €23.5bn. ‘You’ve got seven years of inflation, seven years of increase in GNI’ to take into account, he said.
Oettinger did not put a figure on the Dutch contribution. However, a spokesman for the commission told the FD that the paper’s calculations included contributions made on behalf of the country’s sea ports and did not take money given back to the Netherlands in the form of subsidies into account.
The paper said that using the commission’s own figures of a gross payment of €5.5bn next year and €9.2bn in 2027, the Dutch contribution will have risen 67%, which is more than in its original article.
Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde, who takes over as president of the European central bank on November 1, has told a French radio station that countries like the Netherlands and Germany with large budget surpluses should be spending more.
‘Those that have the room for manoeuvre, those that have a budget surplus, that’s to say Germany, the Netherlands, why not use that budget surplus and invest in infrastructure? Why not invest in education? Why not invest in innovation, to allow for a better rebalancing?’ Lagarde said.
The FT said that ECB officials usually avoid naming individual countries in public statements, because they are supposed to act in the interests of the eurozone as a whole.
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