Reinfeldt heading to Paris for EU budget talks

Reinfeldt heading to Paris for EU budget talks
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will travel to Paris next week to discuss EU budget issues with French President Francois Hollande as Sweden faces a potentially drastic hike in EU fees.

The discussions to be held on Monday between Reinfeldt and Hollande “will focus on the economic situation in Europe and other issues relating to the EU, like the proposed banking union and the EU’s next long-term budget,” the Swedish government said in a statement.

France is an ardent supporter of plans for a European banking union, while Sweden is among its opponents.

On September 15, Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg described a European Commission proposal for a banking union as “totally unacceptable”.

Reinfeldt will also be meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Paris.

The announcement comes as Sweden learned on Thursday it may face an increase of 10 billion kronor ($1.52 billion) per year in the fees paid to Brussels to be a member of the European Union.

European Commission head José Manuel Barroso wants to slash the rebate Sweden currently receives on its EU membership fees.

He also want to expand the EU’s budget by eight percent between 2014 and 2020, compared to the budget of the last seven years.

For countries like Sweden and other countries which pay more into the European Union than they receive in payouts, the proposed changes could result in a whopping payment hike.

“Barroso’s demands would turn him into my most expensive minister, by far. The finance ministry’s tables show a risk of there being a 10 billion kronor fee,” Finance Minister Anders Borg told the TT news agency.

“There’s no fee in the budget that increases by as much in the coming years as the Commission’s budget proposal does.”

Sweden currently receives a rebate of about 5.5 billion kronor from the EU, and pays about 30 billion kronor in fees.

TT/AFP/The Local

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