Ireland must pay additional €157m to EU budget

The EU

Colm Kelpie and Fionnan Sheahan

IRELAND will have to give €157m more towards the EU budget than expected a year ago.

The revision of the EU budget contributions sparked a bitter row at summit in Brussels as Britain was hit with an additional bill of €2bn.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also said the "sacrifices" made in Ireland were acknowledged by several EU leaders during a discussion on the EU economy.

Mr Kenny said the situation is "fragile" in many countries and there were quite a number of references to smaller member states, including Ireland. He said the "difficult time with sacrifices people have made" were discussed.

In Ireland's case of paying more into the EU budget, it was flagged in Budget 2015 that our contribution would be €150m higher than expected.

The increase is due to a number of factors, including upward revisions to Ireland's gross national income for previous years. The European Commission has published further revisions to the contributions, which meant that Ireland must pay another €7m.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government will pay the additional bill. "We have always abided by the rules," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain will refuse to pay a "completely unacceptable" bill of €2bn to the EU.

The Conservative leader hit out at the bill and spoke of his anger at the "appalling" way Britain has been treated by the European Commission.

He said that "it certainly doesn't help" the chances of Britain remaining in the EU after an in-out referendum due to be held in 2017.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan's spokesman said Ireland would not be disputing the extra pay-out. "This is a thing that happens every year. Sometimes it tips on the opposite side. It's not something we have an issue with. On occasions, it works to our benefit and we accrue money back," the spokesman told the Irish Independent.

Ireland paid €1.73bn towards the EU budget last year. It is estimated that this year's contribution is €1.74bn, rising to €1.8bn next year, an increase of about €65m or 3.7pc.

The Department of Finance said in 2013, Ireland received €54m more in contributions from Europe than it had to pay.