Chancellor George Osborne claims that he had negotiated that the UK would only pay half of the £1.7 billion surcharge demanded by the EU, but his claim is disingenuous.
After a meeting of EU finance ministers, Osborne triumphantly declared:
“Instead of footing the bill, we have halved the bill, we have delayed the bill.”
However, the bill has not been halved, merely delayed.
Osborne has managed to to bring down the bill payable over the next twelve months to £850 million, to be paid in two instalments both in July and September 2015, but the remainder of the bill will simply be taken from the UK’s 1 billion euro rebate scheduled for 2016. Osborne has not halved the bill, but instead simply pushed back payment to be scheduled over the next 24 months.
As Irish Dinance Minister pointed out after the Brussels meeting:
“The U.K. will pay the whole amount without any penalties attached or interest rates…The instalments will be paid over a period of time.”
The entire situation about the £1.7 billion surcharge and the government’s faux outrage and shock when presented the bill, belies the fact that the UK government had at least two opportunities to protest against the bill before the money was demanded, the first back in March.