By Thomas Lauritzen in Brussels and Jakob Hvide Beim in Strasbourg
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has dug her heels in and rejected a
rebate proposal from EU President Herman van Rompuy as it is too low,
maintaining Denmark’s demand for DKK 1 billion per year.
“At the weekend we received a rebate offer from van Rompuy, but it was some
hundreds of millions of kroner lower than we have asked for. So we have said
no,” a source close to the government tells politiken.dk.
The statement confirms information from sources close to van Rompuy, who is
heading the 7-year budget negotiations that begin in Brussels tomorrow.
Similar signals have been received from the EU Commission, whose president,
José Manuel Barroso is also involved in the negotiations.
“The feeling is that a rebate for Denmark is unavoidable, but that it also
unavoidable that the rebate must be lower than the one Denmark has
demanded,” a Commission source says.
The van Rompuy cabinet is currently in the process of putting the final
touches to a new proposal for the EU’s 2014-2020 budget. The proposal is to
be presented to EU heads of state and government on Thursday afternoon at
around 4 p.m.
Several sources say that there is still a possibility that the new proposal
will include a lower rebate to Denmark in the region of DK600 million to
DKK800 million per year over the seven year budget period.
Another option would be to cut back on rebates to other EU countries in order
to fulfil Danish demands.
Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria currently all have
rebates, although the Austrian rebate is expected to be removed.
Thorning-Schmidt told the Parliamentary Europe Committee today that Denmark
would be able to accept compensation in the form of cutbacks in its
contributions to rebates for other countries.
But irrespective of how the DKK 1 billion for Denmark is put together, the
prime minister has dug her heels in deep.
The issue heralds a battle of nerves over Denmark’s demands, with all the
signs suggesting that the summit will develop into a dramatic meeting about
the EU’s coffers.
“As things stand we have not received the rebate we want,” a diplomat says.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has repeatedly threatened to veto the EU
budget if Denmark’s rebate demands are not met.
There are also signs of some sympathy for the Danish position among leading
members of the European Parliament.
“The rule should be that no countries get a rebate at all. But that rule was
set aside a long time ago and continues to be so. So I am not surprised that
other countries have the same idea,” says Parliament President Martin
Hannes Swoboda, the group chair of the European socialists and social
democrats is also against rebates in principle.
“But I understand fully well why the Danish government asks why it doesn’t
have a rebate when others do,” Swoboda tells politiken.dk.
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