Now Brussels wants to tax Britons directly with EU-wide levies on banks and air travel
By Jason Groves of The Daily Mail, London, which supplies our British news ticker.
Brussels has launched an audacious bid for new powers to impose taxes in Britain.
EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said the economic downturn provided the perfect opportunity to introduce new taxes across Europe to help fund the Commission’s expanding empire.
Taxes on flights, bank transactions and energy use are all under consideration.
They could raise tens of billions a year from businesses and consumers to swell the EU’s coffers.
Tensions: The EU-wide tax could create further Coalition division's between David Cameron's Tories and Nick Clegg's Lib Dems
The proposals have sparked a backlash in Britain, with critics accusing the EU of attempting to create a ‘country called Europe’.
But Mr Lewandowski, a 59-year-old Polish economist, insisted he was winning support for the idea in European capitals, including Berlin.
Officials hope a deal on taxes could be agreed early in 2012, ahead of the next EU budget round the following year.
The Treasury said last night that it would examine the plans when they are published next month, but warned it would veto anything deemed unacceptable.
Treasury Minister Lord Sassoon said: ‘The Government is opposed to direct taxes financing the EU budget. The UK believes that taxation is a matter for member states to determine at a national level and would have a veto over any plans for such taxes.’
Mr Lewandowski said handing tax-raising powers to Brussels would allow member states to cut their contributions to the EU’s expanding budget – helping them slash their own budget deficits.
With the UK set to hand over a net contribution of £8.3billion to Brussels this year, the message could prove attractive in some parts of Whitehall.
Mr Lewandowski added: ‘Many countries want to be unburdened. If the EU had more of its own revenues, then transfers from national budgets could be reduced.’
Mr Lewandowski, who will unveil details of his plans next month, also fired a warning shot over Britain’s EU budget rebate, arguing that ‘the justification for the rebate is much less convincing now than it used to be’.
Last night Tory former Cabinet minister John Redwood described the Commission’s plans as ‘totally unacceptable.’
Mr Redwood said: ‘Gaining the EU tax-raising powers would greatly increase its power base. There are people in Brussels who are determined to create a country called Europe and this is another example of it.
‘They have a currency called the euro and they need a country to love it with a common economic government.
‘I have no objection to the euroland countries going down this route if they wish to, but I am strongly against it for Britain.
‘If the EU wishes to help tackle our economic problems it could make an important contribution by accepting a 40 per cent cut in its own budget.’