13th January 2010

Brussels 13 January 2010. The European Commission is currently hoarding several billion Euros raised from fines on companies that have engaged in anti-competitive practices, such as Intel and Microsoft.

Conservative Economic Committee member Ashley Fox MEP said that the United Kingdom should be given back its share of the cash, instead of the money being held by the European Commission as a surplus.

Commisioner Designate Almunia was questioned yesterday by Mr  Fox about the surplus money during his confirmation hearing. He said that the monies received in fines would be held by the Commission as part of the EU budget and only the remaining surplus would be redistributed to Member States. He said he had no plans to reform the practice.

If the UK was to receive a share of around 10% of the Commission surplus, this would amount to about £ 500 Million - a much needed boost to the United Kingdom's coffers.

In a statement after the hearing, Mr Fox said,

"Monies raised from anti-competition fines should ideally be  returned to those consumers who have paid over the odds for products and services. However , as this would be virtually impossible to implement  the best alternative is to return the money to the Member States.

"Given the current financial predicament that  Britain is facing, the government should demand that its share of the money is returned to the taxpayer as soon as possible.  My fear is that the Commission will use this money either to cover overspending in other areas or to fund new projects.  At this time of restraint at home we should seek the return of our money immediately."

Dr Kay Swinburne, ECR co-ordinator, who also took part in the confirmation hearing said:

"Money raised from fines should be returned to the member states directly and not treated as a surplus in the EU budget".



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