In a strange irony, the British PM who wants to cut the cost of EU administration has given EU employees a tax cut which will raise take home pay from January.
The tax, known as the solidarity levy, was imposed during the reform of Brussels administration led by Niel Kinnock. As a quid pro quo Eurocrats had their salaries linked to that of civil servants in member states. Instead of negotiating on salaries each year EU salaries were uprated according to the salary rises (or cuts) of national civil servants.
The rule expires at the end of this year. The European commission had proposed to extend the salary method and increase the levy as part of its package of reforms that would see staff numbers fall by 5%. When this was rejected by Britain and other contributors to the EU budget, the commission proposed to extend the current tax and salary method for one year. Mr Cameron and his counterparts rejected the idea out of hand.
The consequence is that take home pay will go up until there is an overall agreement on budget.
Brussels unions suspect that far from being a mistake, some governments want to use the rise to stir up antipathy the European civil servants, to soften them up for bigger cuts next year.