That is the call from Chancellor George Osborne. The EU may make demands for great rises in its £117 billion budget but no, sir, we are not going to agree to them this year. Except last year, when the same thing happened and a reduced increase was agreed. This is in many ways no different to corporate budgeting processes as I experience them.
Firstly, the FD says no increase, we must reduce costs, then the business units put together mushroom budgets and say we can't do with less, then the Finance department says we need real cuts. Then the business units start downgrading their growth predictions, then the CEO steps in and forces a compromise of modest growth. More or less, this is the same every year bar bad recessionary years and years of huge growth. In years of recession the FD has his way and budgets are cut, staff reduced and the balance sheet preserved.
However, as far as the EU is concerned, this should be a recessionary year, but they do not think so. They are not interested though and think it is fun to laugh at their paymasters, here is what he Commissioner Lewandowski has to say:
Someone is criticising us, I have to say the UK budget is growing this year. Is this austerity?
Last year this was the man who thought it right to question the British CAP rebate and suggest our remaining £3 billion should be scrapped.
So what can be done, well I think the best solution is to really push it this year. We have elections coming up and the Tories could make great popular hay by saying we won;t sign up until the budgets are audited and we won't pay any extra this year. Not only will this be domestically popular but it will draw a line in the sand for next year and help to reduce the EU's appetite for a fight each year. Today too, Merkel and Sarkozy also need popular domestic policies to boost their flagging domestic political situations.
There has never been a better time to actually stand up to the EU; so no doubt, we will bottle it again. This time it's no different.