» Thursday, June 9, 2005

EU Rebate

Put to him that President Chirac had called on the UK to make a gesture about the rebate, what sort of gesture would be made in return from the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) asked the journalist did he want a verbal answer or something else? The PMOS said that during the period 1995 – 2003, the UK was the second largest net contributor after Germany to the EU, and even with the rebate, we paid 2.5 times more than either France or Italy. During the same period, without the rebate, we would have paid fifteen times more than France and twelve times more than Italy. Under Commission proposals for 2007 – 2013, without a rebate, we would still be paying 2.5 times more than either France or Italy, despite the fact that our economy was not doing 2.5 times as well as France’s.

Asked what the Prime Minister thought about President Chirac’s "point blank" refusal to negotiate on the CAP, the PMOS said we had always said what justified the rebate was the balance of payments within Europe, as a large part of that was shaped by the CAP. Equally, we had always said we believed there needed to be a reform of the CAP.

Asked if the Prime Minister would raise the reason why France had contributed "such a little" to the EU budget at the Council meeting next week, the PMOS said the Prime Minister would be making a wider point about the EU budget in total. The PMOS said there was balance of payments that made the rebate necessary. It was not about a "stand-off" between the Prime Minister and other EU leaders, but rather, the simple facts about the budget as it currently stood. That was the reality that we had to engage with, and not the personalities involved.

Asked when our rebate was up, and did we see the increase as justified, the PMOS replied that it remained fully justified as the net costs outlined earlier showed. The PMOS referred the journalist to the Treasury to further information.

Put to the PMOS that on the basis of the figures given earlier, could there not be a "net" coming into our funds, rather than a "net" going out of them, i.e. that the figures underlined the case for keeping the rebate, the PMOS explained that they did not as they showed that without the rebate, we would still be paying 2.5 times more than France or Italy, but nobody was suggesting that our economy was 2.5 times larger than either France or Italy. We still needed the rebate as the disparity remained as described.

Asked again why France and Italy were allowed to "get away" with paying so little compared to Germany and the UK, the PMOS said it was the structure of the EU budget, and in particular, the effect of the CAP. This was why we had constantly argued for a much bigger reform of the CAP. The PMOS said if there still a situation where there was a rebate, we would continue to pay 2.5 times more than France or Italy, which was still unfair.

Asked whom it was unfair to, given the Dutch situation, the PMOS reminded the journalist that in the period 1995 – 2003, we were still the second largest contributor after Germany, so in terms of size of economies in comparison with the similar sizes of France or Italy, it would be wrong for us to pay 2.5 times more than them. That was why we had argued for reform.

Asked why the debate about the budget had been personalised, the PMOS said he did not want to personalise it, as it would be wrong to do so. The important thing was that we addressed the issue on the facts, as it did not come down to people making gestures, but rather about arguing the case on the facts, which were as stated.

Asked what gesture of solidarity we would like to see France make on budget reports, the PMOS replied that we all had to address reality, which was that the budget was structured by the CAP, which was why we wanted reform.

Asked if the Prime Minister disagreed with the EU leader in Brussels who had said today that the rebate would "just fade away", the PMOS said the balance of payments as it stood at the moment was what justified the rebate in the UK.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news


  1. A very simple point……Tony at last you are holding the line for what is in our national interest. Do not be deflected from what is right for our future. I hope you continue to look at Government policy without the rose coloured specs you seem to have been wearing. While you’re at it have a look at the benefits system & imigration and you may just be remembered as the PM that put the Great back in a now multicultural & potentially tolerant Britain. Time is running out…………………

    Remember"What we do in life echoes in eternity!!"

    Comment by BA — 18 Jun 2005 on 10:55 pm | Link
  2. dick

    Comment by jc — 26 Apr 2007 on 8:49 pm | Link

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