Labour have called for a real-terms cut in the budget of the European Union. The Prime Minister has agreed to a 2% rise in budget, 3% less than the European Commission asked for, but Ed Balls says it is time for the EU to adapt to austere conditions.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander have hit out at David Cameron's posturing against the EU, accusing him of alienating European partners and minimising the UK's influence.
"Sadly for both Britain and Europe, Mr Cameron looks ill-equipped to fulfil that role. A failure to deliver the necessary restraint and reforms will be a missed opportunity for Europe, a setback for Britain and a personal failure for the Prime Minister."
They supported plans to overhaul the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as they called the current subsidies "a waste" of money that does not create jobs. They said:
Far too much money still goes on agricultural subsidies, instead of on policies to promote growth, cohesion and development or to support the EU’s vital role in international affairs
So further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must not just be discussed but implemented.
The CAP amounts to about £45 billion and the UK makes a net contribution of about £1 billion per year. Although the butter mountains of the past are long gone, the need for reform is no less urgent. The CAP is an obstacle to international trade liberalisation, creates too few jobs and introduces distortions so there is not a level playing field. The EU cannot afford this waste.
"The crisis in the eurozone and a chronic lack of growth across the Continent mean that EU resources are stretched and priorities must be revised. The challenge for the EU, as for national governments, is to cut spending in a way that is both fair and supports rather than stifles jobs and growth."
"The priority for the new seven-year budget must be to promote growth and jobs across Europe. And that is why Labour will argue against the proposed increase in EU spending and instead support a real-terms cut in the budget."