Budget commissioner rejects Denmark’s discount claim
Denmark is not entitled to a discount on its contribution to the EU budget according to EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski.
PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) has threatened to veto the next seven-year budget starting in 2014 unless Denmark is offered a one billion kroner discount because of its high contribution relative to its population size.
But Lewandowski, who stated in 2011 that Denmark was on track to get a discount, has now announced that Denmark’s demands will not be met.
“You are the second richest country in the EU and according to my calculations you are not entitled to a discount,” he told Politiken newspaper.
He added that simply because Denmark paid in more than it got in return was no argument for a discount, and that giving Denmark a discount would snowball across the continent as other countries tried to reduce their EU payments.
Lewandowski’s statement arrives just weeks before a summit of EU leaders that will discuss the finalisation of the next budget.
Professor and EU expert Marlene Wind from the University of Copenhagen said that Thorning-Schmidt’s strategy may backfire.
“If it doesn’t work out it will a major setback because the government has chosen this very vocal strategy,” Wind told Jyllands-Posten newspaper, referring to Thorning-Schmidt’s repeated veto threat. “It’s not in the Danish tradition to be so vocal so I thought she must already have a deal in place.”
Five other EU countries are already granted discounts, including the UK and Austria, but there is uncertainty over how long the discounts will stay in place following the outcome of the upcoming budget talks.
Thorning-Schmidt could still secure a discount after cutting a deal with other EU member states but Lewandowski’s statement increases the pressure on the PM, who has already budgeted to spend the one billion kroner differently.