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Mythbust

Britain’s EU rebate not in danger

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 10.06.2016

Myth: Britain’s budget rebate is in danger

InFact: If the EU wanted to scrap, reduce or otherwise change the rebate, there would need to be a unanimous Council vote. In other words, Britain could veto it.

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When the Leave camp is confronted with the fact that we don’t send £350 million a week to Brussels because Margaret Thatcher secured us a “rebate”, it oftens replies that the rebate is under threat. Michael Gove, for example, has said: “That rebate is decided by other countries. It’s not up to us.”

This isn’t true.

To scrap, reduce or otherwise change the rebate, there would need to be a unanimous Council vote. In other words, Britain could veto it.

The rebate is written into the rules governing the ways the EU raises money. As a European Parliament briefing note puts it: “The UK rebate has … become de facto permanent”, since “unanimity of the Member States” would be required to change it.

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The rebate is, of course, vulnerable to the whims of British ministers — as are most UK policy matters. But isn’t that the sort of domestic control eurosceptics say they want?

This article is an adaptation of a piece that previously appeared on InFacts.

Edited by Hugo Dixon