£8bn cut from the EU budget on paper, but not necessarily in practice

21st May 2014

In the last party leader interview on the BBC's World at One programme before the local and European elections tomorrow, David Cameron claimed that he's cut £8 billion from the EU budget.

When talks began on how much money the EU should have at its disposal for the 2014-2020 period, the European Commission initially proposed setting a total allocation of about €988 billion (£870 billion) to spend. However the UK government took a hard line in the negotiations, stating it wanted the budget cut at best, frozen at worst. It got its way, and the final proposal suggested a cut in the ceiling to around €908 billion (£770 billion) — £30 billion lower than the previous seven-year round. The UK's share of this savings is about £8 billion.

But, the UK could still end up contributing more to the pot. The historic rebate that the UK has enjoyed on agricultural contributions does not include spending on member states that have joined since 2004.

So if more money is spent by the EU on the likes of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, the UK may have to contribute a higher share than it otherwise would have done. While £8bn is roughly equivalent to the UK's share of the £30bn 'saving', whether or not UK taxpayers will end up better off by that amount remains to be seen.

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