By Martin Banks - 13th September 2011
It is a bit late in the day
Nine European governments have joined forces in condemning a planned EU budget rise.
The group have branded the move as "unacceptable" at a time of national belt-tightening.
Following a meeting in Brussels on Monday, a statement was issued by Austria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden.
It warns, "We need to make the best use of the European budget to create better conditions for growth and make Europe more competitive. We need to spend better, not to spend more.
"The commission's proposal comes at a time when member states are making considerable financial efforts to support Europe and at the same time are undertaking tough consolidation efforts."
The budget proposals, outlined in the summer, have to be ratified by both member states and parliament.
Many will see this week's statement as a signal that the fight is on in the next few months as the final figure for the EU budget for a seven-year period after 2013 is agreed.
The statement was welcomed by UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen, a former commission chief accountant and budget committee member.
Speaking in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Andreasen said, "It is a bit late in the day but welcome that nine EU countries have woken up to the fact that we cannot go on expanding the EU budget to fund ludicrous projects and a 2020 strategy that plainly has no chance of succeeding.
"However, the British public will be very wary of promises made by the Conservative government.
"David Cameron previously came back from a summit in 2010 trumpeting a 2.9 per cent increase as a victory after promises of a freeze.
"What the British public really want to see is a reduction in our contributions to the EU."
Meanwhile, a leading think tank says the UK has an "historic" opportunity to drive forward a "fresh" EU strategy it calls "European localism".
According to a new report co-authored by Mats Persson, director of the UK-based group Open Europe, the UK should take the principles and "rhetoric" of localism widely endorsed at a national level and apply them at a European level.
Its report, “The Case for European Localism” says this would strengthen the role of national parliaments and increase democratic accountability in the EU.