European finance ministers are to convene a meeting after British Prime Minister David Cameron demanded emergency talks over a demand for the U.K. to pay an extra £1.7 billion ($2.72 billion) into the European Union Budget.
The EU meeting was largely seen as a victory for Cameron in Britain on Friday after it was disclosed, as EU leaders met at a summit in Brussels, that a recalculation of contributions based on figures compiled byEU statistical agency Eurostat had left the U.K., Italy and the Netherlands with extra bills while Germany and France were to receive a rebate.
Speaking to the press in Brussels, Cameron said on Friday: "If people think I am paying that bill on 1st December, they have another thing coming."
Clearly angry, he added: "This is completely unacceptable. It is an unacceptable way for this organization to work, to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money, with so little time to pay it."
Cameron accepted that sometimes there were adjustments made to EU contributions, but said: "It has never been the case that a €2 billion bill has suddenly been presented, and it is not acceptable. It is an appalling way to behave."
"People should be in no doubt, as an important contributor to this organisation, we are not going to suddenly get out our chequebook and write a cheque for €2 billion, it is not happening."
He went on: "These emergency meetings need to take place, the figures need to be thoroughly investigated, an explanation of how this happened needs to be properly produced."
Eurostat had highlighted the discrepancy between what the UK had been expected to pay and what it should be contributing because of the UK’s economic recovery, which has proved better and faster than its European counterparts.
'Leave EU' call
The U.K. has until the end of December to forward the funds.
The Netherlands has also been asked to pay a further €600 million towards the EU budget.
The anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), which in recent months has seen its ranks take in two former Conservative MPs who defected from the ruling party, used the news to attack the bloc and say it is another reason why the U.K. should leave.
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Leader of UKIP Nigel Farage said: "Having come to Britain to set fire to David Cameron’s migration ideas, [European Commission president] Jose Manuel Barroso has returned to Brussels to pour more fuel on the flames."
"This is the EU making clear that economic success is not to be applauded but to be punished. Mr Cameron has to veto this if he is to have any credibility at all."
With a planned by-election for next month where a Conservative defector, Mark Reckless, is standing, the news could not have come at a worse time for Cameron.
This month also saw UKIP’s first lawmaker elected in a by-election after defecting from the ruling Conservatives.
Arguments about the EU and immigration will be at the forefront of the election campaign.
Cameron will also face pressure from within his own party.
John Redwood, a Conservative backbencher, told BBC’s Radio 4 today program that the increase "offended all our principles of natural justice and fair taxation".
He said: "It is a very large increase in tax on the British people, charged retrospectively without their agreement."
"The British people will not want to send another £1.7 billion to the European Union by a very big majority and so the British government just says it won't pay," Redwood told the BBC.
The U.K. currently contributes £8.6bn annually to the European Union budget.