EU Takes Control of Europe's National Governments Budgets
The European Union will vet the Chancellor's Budget before it is debated by MPs in the House of Commons or seen by the public, under plans agreed last night.
David Cameron faces a major row over the “budgetary surveillance” demand when the Prime Minister attends his first EU summit next Thursday.
Britain was isolated during a meeting of an “economic government taskforce”, chaired by Herman Van Rompuy, the EU President, last night.
Mr Van Rompuy and the European Commission have tabled plans that will require all of Europe’s governments to discuss their budget plans with other EU finance ministers and officials before they presented to national parliaments.
“A government presenting a budget plan with a high deficit would have to justify itself in front of its peers, among finance ministers,” said Mr Van Rompuy.
“There would still be time to adjust plans before the final budget plans are presented.”
Mr Van Rompuy has defended the plan as an EU “reality check” of a government’s main budgetary assumptions on growth levels, inflation, total revenue or spending and deficit targets.
He claimed that budget vetting by the EU would help the Commons, or other national parliaments, to judge their government's plans “knowing fully their fallibilities”.
The measure is intended to prevent repeats of the Greek debt crisis and to help the EU police rules, applying to all 27 member states, limiting public spending in order to safeguard the euro.
While Britain is included in planned new budget “peer review” rules, British governments will escape the sanctions that euro members will face if they ignore EU instructions to change their spending plans.
Conservative ministers have insisted that there is no question of MPs losing the “power of the purse” over budgets, a key plank of parliamentary sovereignty in Britain.
A British diplomat said: “The UK would not be prepared to submit draft budgets to the European Commission or peer review before putting them to parliament. We will not support measures that undermine the role of parliament.”
But EU officials and French diplomats have insisted that British Chancellors of the Exchequer will be required to give their budgetary plans to the EU not after they are given to MPs in Westminster, "but before or simultaneously”.
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