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The UK will not, whatever the circumstances, be called upon by the EU to supply emergency (“bail out”) funding to Eurozone countries. This is clear in the agreement reached between David Cameron and all the other EU leaders in February, which has the status of international law.*
Neither can the EU budget be increased without the UK’s consent beyond the ceilings Member States, including the UK, agreed unanimously for the 2014-2020 period. Any increase in those ceilings requires according to the EU Treaties a unanimous vote – in other words the UK has a veto which could only be altered by a change in the Treaties, something the UK could also veto.
Finally, reports of a £19.4 billion “black hole” in the EU budget are mistaken. There was a backlog in payments – partly the result of technical issues arising in the transition from one seven-year budget period (2007-13) to the next (2014-20) – but much of it was already eliminated in 2015 and it is expected to be down to EUR 2bn by the end of this year, at zero additional cost to Member States beyond their scheduled budget contributions.
This amounts to a return to normal, given that in practice the backlog represents the claims for payment that come in towards the end of one financial year but are paid in the next financial year. As all claims need to be properly checked and this takes time, it is inevitable that some claims will fall into this category.
The EU budget is just under €150 bn per year for the period 2014-2020. This represents about 1 % of the annual wealth produced in the EU and 2% of total public expenditure across Europe, the other 98% of which is spent by national, regional and local governments.
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