The Prime Minister has praised the EU budget agreement ("Cameron hails EU budget cut as 'deal to be proud of'", The Herald, February 9).

However, when one looks behind the Downing Street spin, and the Brussels smoke and mirrors that devils such complex arrangements, we see a different position with regards to the UK.

After two days of talks, leaders agreed a €908 billion (£768bn) budget limit for 2014-20, £29bn lower compared to current levels of spending. But the UK's contribution is likely to go up, not down, in the context of this shrinking budget, something Mr Cameron has curiously been silent on. This is because the UK's rebate is coming down from its current annual level of about €3.5bn, a reduction negotiated by Tony Blair to help fund the EU's eastward enlargement.

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The agreement by the 27 member states is also only the beginning of the budgetary battle as it must now go through the European Parliament, which has the power to veto the deal.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz has announced that the parliament vote will be conducted by secret ballot to stop governments pressuring their MEPs to back the deal. It is the job of elected politicians to be open, transparent and accountable in their democratic dealings, not least when deciding how to spend taxpayers' money, and to undertake such a key vote in this manner is quite appalling.

As is often the case with these budgetary negotiations, the devil is in the detail, and while these initial negotiations have proven successful a few hurdles are still to be overcome.

Alex Orr,

Flat 2, 77 Leamington Terrace,


I read with interest the publicity given to the conclusion of the Prime Minister's negotiations last week with our EU partners. Albeit there will be a reduction in the overall size of the EU budget, I believe there is some inverted logic being applied to the situation given that those living in austerity Britain will in all likelihood finish up paying even more into the EU collection pot.

Apparently the civil servants in Brussels have worked out that the net contributions for British taxpayers' payments each year will be higher in 2014-20 than they are now, as a greater share of the cake will go to countries who have joined this less than happy band in more recent times, such as Poland and Romania.

I can imagine the welcome given to the captain of the golf club, upon arriving home wearied after the club AGM replete with the espresso and Haribo sweets needed to get through the trials and tribulations of the meeting. He explains to his wife and fellow member that, through his efforts, the overall expenditure for the club is not going up for the next few years, but their class of subscriptions is being raised significantly.

The blame for those increases is being attributed to the ineptitude of a past captain whose attention is now largely concentrated upon increasing his property portfolio and whose presence at the club is not now always well received.

I am doubtful if such financial news would elicit a congratulatory retort of: "Well done, dear." A more likely response would be: "Aye, right."

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road,


East Dunbartonshire.