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Tuesday, November 24, 2020
UK’s new EU commissioner says budget row with Brussels must ‘calm down’

UK’s new EU commissioner says budget row with Brussels must ‘calm down’

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Britain’s new European commissioner Jonathan Hill said on Thursday that a row between London and Brussels over a demand for 2.1 billion euros (1.65 billion pounds) had become highly political and that the situation needed to be calmed down.

The European Commission angered Prime Minister David Cameron last month by presenting his country with what he called an unacceptably large bill in an appalling way after a technical recalculation of member states’ economies.

Cameron has said he won’t pay the bill by a Dec. 1 deadline or “anything like” it, prompting criticism from Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU executive’s president, and fuelling an emotive debate about Europe before a national election next year.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers on Friday at which the bill will be discussed, Hill, who said he agreed with Cameron that Britain should stay in a reformed EU, called for the dispute to be de-escalated.

“This is one of those classic examples you get from time to time where something that a group of people think are technical matters suddenly, and in this case for perfectly understandable reasons, become highly political,” he told BBC radio.

“The sensible thing now is to try to calm the situation down and to look at the facts and to look at a practical solution that various member states face.”

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

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