David Cameron has said Britain will not hand over an extra £1.7bn (€2.1bn) to the European Union by December 1.
The surcharge is being levied because the UK economy has fared more strongly than other member states since 1995. It would add nearly a fifth to the UK’s annual contribution to the EU of £8.6bn. Preliminary figures seen by the Financial Times suggest that Britain is facing by far the biggest top-up, while the Netherlands is being asked for an extra 642 million euro (£506 million).
By contrast, Germany receives a rebate of 779 million euro (£614 million), France one billion (£788.7 million) and Poland 316 million (£249 million).
The Prime Minister said he had only learned of the surprise surcharge, which he denounced as “completely unacceptable”, at the beginning of an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.
It is an unacceptable way for this organisation to work - to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money with so little time to pay it. And it is an unacceptable way to treat one of the biggest contributors to the European Union. It is an appalling way to behave. I am not paying that bill on December 1. If people think I am they have got another thing coming.
- David Cameron
He has already started gathering support among the other nine countries, including Italy and the Netherlands, which have been also hit with an unexpected demand for more money. He also said there could be a legal challenge to the Commission’s move.