European Parliament defies UK Government spending review by voting to increase UK contribution to EU budget by £840m

(PresseBox) (London, ) In complete contrast to the cuts outlined in the UK Government's spending review being debated in Parliament today, MEPs in the European Parliament have voted to increase the EU budget for 2011 by 5.9%.

MEPs' demands will increase the UK contribution to the EU budget by approximately £840m compared to the cash freeze (at 2010 levels) demanded by the UK Government.

In a separate vote, MEPs have voted to extend European Commission proposals on maternity leave, increasing costs to the UK Government and businesses by £2.5bn a year.

Open Europe Analyst Stephen Booth said:

"Today's vote in the European Parliament demonstrates how seriously out of touch MEPs are with reality. It's absolutely ridiculous that on the same day the UK Government announces huge cuts to public spending, the European Parliament votes to increase the EU budget by 5.9%."

"When the UK Government is being forced to make difficult choices about the public services it can afford, taxpayers will be outraged to see more of their money heading to Brussels, when they see such little benefit from the EU budget as it currently stands. MEPs have completely shot themselves in the foot."

BACKGROUND

2011 EU budget

- MEPs have voted in favour of the European Commission's proposal to increase the EU 2011 budget to a total of €130 billion[1]. This represents a 5.9% increase on the 2010 EU budget of €123bn[2].
- Included in the budget increase is a 4.4% increase in administrative expenditure for the EU institutions[3].
- In June 2010, the Government said the UK's contribution to the EU budget was 13.6% of the total[4].
- The UK Government has called for a cash freeze on the EU budget[5]. If the EU budget was frozen at 2010 levels (€123bn or £108.2bn) the UK contribution would have been £14.82bn. But under the European Parliament's increased budget (€130bn or £114.4bn) the UK will contribute £15.67bn. This represents an increase of £843m to the UK's gross contribution.

Extended maternity leave to cost UK £2.5bn

- The European Parliament has today voted to extend the European Commission's proposals on maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay. An internal European Parliament impact assessment estimates that the cost of the changes to the UK will be €3 billion (£2.5 billion) per annum[6]. This figure has been confirmed by the UK Government[7].

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