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FRANCE AND THE EU

BRUSSELS

France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more

Struggling France is owed a €1billion rebate from Brussels, it was revealed this week. It hasn’t gone down well on the other side of the English Channel where the UK has been told to hand over an extra €2.1billion.

France to get €1b EU rebate as UK to pay more
France is owed €1 billion by the EU, in contrast to the UK, which has been told to pay €2.1 billion more. Photo: Luc Legay/Flickr

Thanks to France’s beleaguered economy Paris is set to receive a €1billion rebate from Brussels, it was revealed this week.

In contrast, the UK, where the economy is growing faster than elsewhere in the Eurozone, has been told to hand over an extra €2.1 billion to the EU.

It’s a blow for David Cameron as he tries to quell anti-Europe sentiment in his party and is preparing for a showdown with Brussels as he attempts to renegotiate the rules of the EU.

The fact France is to get a rebate and the UK has to stump up more has, predictably, not gone down well in the UK with the right wing Daily Mail newspaper saying it “added insult to injury”.

And the leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage said: "The EU is like a thirsty vampire feasting on UK taxpayers' blood. We need to protect the innocent victims who are us."

Under new budgetary calculations, deficit-laden and struggling France will be owed €1.0 billion ($1.27 billion), a European Commission spokesman said.

Germany, the bloc's most powerful and richest economy, meanwhile gets arebate of €779 million.

The Netherlands is like Britain tapped for more funds, having to pay €300million, spokesman Patrizio Fiorilli added.

The surcharge is based on a revision in the way that the economic output of EU states is calculated dating back to 1995, a figure which includes previously hidden elements such as drugs and prostitution, and the overall economic situation of each country.

"The British economy is growing much faster than the others and the logicis the same as with tax: if someone earns more, they pay more tax," Fiorilli told AFP.

SEE ALSO: France to hand over €1.5 billion to Britain

"Mathematically that means 2.1 billion euros more for 2014 for Britain,more than 300 million for the Netherlands and a billion less for France."

Speaking at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, outgoing European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said he was not aware of the payment demanded from Britain.

"It's the first time I have heard about that. I have not been informed so Iwill not comment on the point," he said.

The British economy is recovering well from the slump after the financialcrisis, growing by 3.2 percent in the second quarter of 2014 compared to a year earlier.

In contrast, the European economy is stalling, dragged down by France andnow a slowing Germany.

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ATTACK

Belgian police arrest 3 linked to foiled French terror plot

Three men have been arrested during an anti-terror operation in Brussels in connection with a foiled plot to attack France, Belgium's federal prosecutor said Friday.

Belgian police arrest 3 linked to foiled French terror plot
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP file picture

“Police carried out two searches as part of a terrorism case linked to the arrest (near Paris) of Reda Kriket,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

French terror suspect Kriket was arrested in the outskirts of Paris on Thursday. 

Kriket is suspected of having been in the “advanced stage” of plotting an attack on France and has been described by authorities as “extremely dangerous”. 

After his arrest, police on Thursday conducted a raid on his home in the northern Parisian suburb of Argenteuil, finding ready-to-use explosives and several handguns.

In connection with Kriket's arrest, police on Friday carried out a massive anti-terror operation also in Schaerbeek and in Forest, both neighbourhoods in Brussels.

The prosecutor said two of the three men arrested during the raids had been injured in the leg.

Amateur video footage showed a man lying on the ground by a tram station holding a small backpack.

A total of 31 people were killed in the suicide bombings that struck Brussels airport and the city's Metro on Tuesday.

Connecting the dots between the Paris and Brussels attacks

Police in Belgium and Paris are still trying to connect the potential dots between the November 13 attacks in Paris – in which 130 people were killed – and those in Brussels. The picture is now getting somewhat clearer.

Kriket was on Friday linked to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks and who was killed by police five days after the carnage in the French capital.

Belgian police have also linked Salah Abdeslam – the only surviving jihadist directly involved in the Paris attacks and who was arrested in Belgium last week – to the Brussels suicide bomber brothers, Khalid and Ibrahim El Bakraoui.

On Friday, the Belgian federal prosecutor also confirmed that 24-year-old Najim Laachraoui – a bomb maker whose DNA was found on explosives used by the jihadists in Paris – had been among the three attackers who targeted the Brussels airport on Tuesday, saying he had died as one of the two suicide bombers who had struck there. 

The third airport attacker is still believed to be at large, however, after his bomb failed to detonate.

Following the latest raids and arrests in both Paris and Brussels, French President François Hollande on Friday declared that the jihadist network behind the deadly attacks in the two cities are “in the process of being destroyed”, but warned that other cells remain,

“We have had some results in finding the terrorists and, in Brussels as well as Paris, there have been a number of arrests and we know that there are other networks,” he said.

“Even if the one that committed the attacks in Paris and Brussels is in the process of being destroyed… there is still a heavy threat.”