By Jonathan Davies

The UK will only have to pay half of the £1.7bn EU bill, the Chancellor George Osborne has said.

Speaking after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels today (Friday), Mr Osborne said the UK will pay a total of £850m over two instalments next year.

The bill must be paid by September 2015.

He described it as "far beyond what anyone expected us to achieve" and was a "result for Britain".

"Instead of footing the bill, we have halved the bill and delayed the bill," Osborne said.

"Instead of challenging the law, we have actually changed the law. It is a real result for Britain."

The Chancellor started the day by saying he will get a 'better deal' for the UK as he described the sum of money as "unacceptable".

Speaking ahead of the Ecofin meeting, Mr Osborne said: "The demand that Britain should pay £1.7bn by the 1st December is unacceptable. I wanted this on the agenda. It is on the agenda. I will make sure we get a better deal for Britain."

The UK was handed the bill after recalculations of each member states contribution to the EU budget. The UK was one of the last countries to adopt the new standard of calculations, and that, combined with the improved economic performance, left a bill far greater than any other country.

Sandra Mundy, a partner specialising in business restructuring at accountants James Cowper, said: “This bill from the EU, based on the economic performance of the UK economy, is not that dissimilar from Corporation Tax, which is of course based on the financial performance of businesses.

“If UK businesses were to respond to tax demands in the same way, HMRC would prove to be a far tougher negotiating partner. It would charge interest and penalties on late payments, and under Cameron’s own proposals, HMRC may soon have the powers to raid bank accounts.


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