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Ec (Own Resources)

Volume 130: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1988

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the European Commission has paid to member states the 400 mecu traditional own resources refunds deferred from 1987 under Council regulation 3952/87.

Yes. The Commission paid to member states on 24 March the refunds of traditional own resources deferred from 1987. These refunds are set at 10 per cent. of traditional own resources (levies and duties) paid over to the Commission by member states and are intended to cover costs of collection.As I reported to the House on 3 July last year, at column

175, the Budget Council decided on 2 July to defer 400 mecu of these refunds until early 1988 to help deal with the Community's budgetary problems last year. The Commission accordingly deferred most of the refunds due to member states in respect of the traditional own resources established between June and October 1987. In the event, the total amount deferred (and now refunded to member states) came to 443 mecu rather than 400 mecu because these own resources were running at a higher level than expected. The United Kingdom's share of the sums now refunded is some 91 mecu (£63·1 million).

In accordance with the conclusions of the Brussels European Council in February, the existing arrangements for 10 per cent. refunds of traditional own resources are to be replaced, with effect from the beginning of 1988, by a new system whereby member states will make a 10 per cent deduction from their monthly payments of these own resources to the Commission (which relate to own resources established two months previously). In keeping with this, the Commission does not propose to pay to member states refunds in respect of own resources established from November 1987 onwards (and for which there is no budgetary provision). It proposes instead to invite member states to deduct from their first payments of traditional own resources after the 1988 budget has been adopted the total deductions due in respect of own resources established from November 1987 onwards. In this way member states will effectively receive the 10 per cent. collection costs due to them in respect of all the months concerned.