Budget rows overshadow EU economy summit
David Cameron furiously rejected a surprise demand from Brussels for more than two billion euros in backdated charges yesterday, setting up a new showdown over Britain's place in the EU.
The British prime minister hijacked a European summit that was meant to be focused on the continent's stalling economy, demanding an emergency meeting of finance ministers to tackle his concerns.
"I am not paying that bill on the first of December. If people think that is going to happen they've got another thing coming," Cameron told a news conference, thumping the lectern and going red in the face as he spoke.
"We are not suddenly going to take out our chequebook and write a cheque for two billion euros , it is not happening."
The clash stole the limelight from a landmark EU deal on climate change targets for 2030 and a pledge to give one billion euros in aid to west Africa to combat the Ebola virus.
It renews questions over Britain's vexed membership of the 28-member European Union, which Cameron has vowed to put to a referendum in 2017 if he wins a general election next May.
Cameron insisted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Dutch premier Mark Rutte and the leaders of Greece, Malta and other countries hit by similar but smaller EU bills had supported him.
He quoted Renzi as saying of the bill: "This isn't a figure, this is a lethal weapon".
Adding insult to injury in British eyes, France will be owed 1.0 billion euros by the EU while Germany, the bloc's most powerful and richest economy, gets a rebate of 779 million euros.
The new bills are based on a revision in the way in which the economic output of EU states is measured to include previously hidden elements such as drugs and prostitution, and the overall economic situation of each country.