First cut in the history of EU budget a success for Britain
The benefits of negotiating from strength have come through for the UK in setting the budget for the European Union.
Every seven years a long-term financial plan is drawn up which has to be agreed by all the member states each one wielding a veto. This is then apportioned annually by qualified majority voting.
David Cameron went to the second round of negotiations shortly after his speech on Britain's future relations with the EU and his promise of an "In or Out" referendum. This was criticised by some for marginalising us in Europe and making it harder to obtain what we want from the organisation. However, the opposite turned out to be true.
Prior to the speech Germany's position had not been completely clear but afterwards Angela Merkel, who is known to favour our remaining in, became a staunch ally. Indeed, instead of being isolated in Europe the Prime Minister had the support of the Danes, the Swedes and the Dutch as well as the Germans. He led the way in arguing for fiscal controls against the profligate spending advocated by the socialist French President Francis Hollande.
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The saving achieved is remarkable and better than I thought possible. The Commission's first proposal was for a spending limit of £855 billion up from the current £816 billion. If nothing had been done and the emergency budget provision had been used the figure would have been £837 billion. Anything below this has to be a triumph of negotiating skills because the beneficiary nations could have seen this level of spending simply by vetoing the whole thing. Instead Mr Cameron brought it down to £785 billion.
A real cut for the first time in the history of the EU and its predecessors. A real success for Britain.