By Jonathan Davies
The government will fight the controversial £1.7bn bill handed to the UK by the EU 'in every way', the Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons today (Monday).
Mr Cameron said the figure, and the deadline (1 December) for payment, were "unacceptable".
He said: "Britain will not be paying the 2bn euros to anyone on 1 December and we reject this scale of payment. We will be challenging this in every way possible.
"(It is) simply not acceptable for the EU to make these kinds of demands and to do so in such a fast-track process," the Prime Minister added. "It's not just small change but a vast amount."
On Friday, Mr Cameron told EU leaders they had "another thing coming" if they thought Britain would pay the £1.7bn bill by its due date on 1 December. And he is expected to reiterate his stance to Parliament today.
At no point on Friday or today, did David Cameron explicitly say that the bill would not be paid at all. He only stressed that it would not be paid by the deadline at the start of December.
The government is keen to see a report on exactly how the EU came to the £1.7bn figure before paying.
The bill comes as a result of re-calculations based on economic growth. The amount of money each EU nation has to contribute to the EU budget is calculated based on economic growth. When they are reviewed, some countries receive a rebate while others are required to pay more.
European Commissioner for Budgets, Jacek Dominik, defended the surcharge, claiming the UK had already agreed to the way the calculations are made. He said: "We all agree on the methodology and the elements that are included in the contributions and we simply apply them. Never in the past was there a situation that such a decision was changed and implementation regulations have been changed because one of the member states has contested and… it would be extremely difficult to do it."
While the government may have expected a surcharge, the sheer scale of the bill came as a huge shock.
"No one was expecting a change on this scale," Mr Cameron said.
It comes with the general election looming and the UK's relationship with Europe is already a hot topic.
But the EU remains adamant that the UK must pay the bill. Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German MEP, said the EU would be "exasperated" if it wasn't paid.
He added: "If you have higher GDP growth than forecast, that also means logically that you have a higher contribution to the community's budget.
"That is a logical consequence. That is something that everybody has signed up for."
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