A British victory in the EU budget battle. That’s the claim of finance minister George Osborne over the disputed 2.1 billion euros bill handed to the British Government last month.
After a meeting with EU finance ministers, political spin on the new deal was in full swing.
The UK will pay two interest-free amounts next year, totalling around one million euros.
The man who leads his government into an election next year was beaming.
“This was far from inevitable because the bill has been halved, the bill has been delayed, no interest is being paid on the bill and we have changed the rules so this can’t happen again and that is very good news,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Europe responded with suggestions that British had massaged the figures. A promised rebate by the EU which had been due in 2016 has been brought forward, so reducing the total of the surcharge.
“I can’t confirm the British figures. The only thing I know is that the UK has a right on the rebate which they have had for a very long time and of course this mechanism of rebate will also apply on the new contribution so it’s not as if the British have been given a discount today,” Dutch Finance Minister Jereon Dijsselbloem told reporters.
Beyond Brussels, in Britain the figures will be scrutinised amid claims they do not add up.
The opposition Labour Party has said it was “smoke and mirrors” with the shadow finance minister adding that it was “a diplomatic disaster”.