EU-Common Agricultural Policy
Asked if the Government still believed, as it had stated after the CAP deal, that there had been significant progress on the issue of CAP reform, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that before 2002 CAP had absorbed something like 70% of the EU budget, it now absorbed 40% of the EU budget, so there had been progress. The Prime Minister said in the House on the 20 October 2002 that the important thing was that as a result of that outcome, enlargement remained on-track and fundamental CAP reform remained on the agenda. He hadn't said that fundamental CAP reform had been achieved, he had said it remained on the agenda. The important thing was that we had kept it on the agenda and we continued to keep it on the agenda. We didn't do that for dogmatic reasons, we do it because we believed that the current budget didn't address the needs of Europe in the 21st Century and therefore it needed to be adapted to do so. Asked if the Government still believed that France had made a dramatic shift on the issue, the PMOS said that that a drop of around 30% in the proportion of money spent on CAP was dramatic. In saying that it wasn't the completion of the process of reform. It was matter of getting what progress you could, when you could get it in an organisation which worked on a consensus, as the EU did. Anyone could stand on the sidelines and say all sorts of things, but you could only achieve progress in the EU through consensus. Asked what sort of figure we would be looking to end up at, the PMOS said that as he had said this morning, you started from an assessment of the needs of the EU and then you moved forward from that assessment. The important thing was that you didn't have an artificial figure, but a figure based on an assessment and comparison between different needs. Asked when he expected progress to be made, the PMOS said that these sorts of negotiations tended to take on a life of their own and he was sure this would be no exception. He would not give a running commentary.
Asked why people would not be allowed to march in protest outside the G8 summit in Gleneagles, the PMOS said that people were entitled to legitimate protest. The question was about the judgement from the police about where that could be safely done. That was a matter on which we would act on the operational advice of the police.
Sir Gus O’Donnell
The Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMOS) announced to journalists that Sir Gus O'Donnell had been appointed as Cabinet Secretary, following an internal competition, handled on the advice of Sir Andrew Turnbull, as well as input, as was normal from the first Civil Service Commissioner. The Prime Minister had agreed the shortlist, as recommended by Sir Andrew, which was Sir Nigel Crisp from the Department of Health, Sir John Gieve from the Home Office, Sir David Normington from the Department for Education and Sir Gus O'Donnell from the Treasury. They were all interviewed by the Prime Minister, before he made a final decision. Sir Andrew will retired this summer, and Sir Gus's salary would be determined by an independent renumeration committee, chaired by the chairman of the Senior Salaries Reumeration Body.
Asked if we were expecting more proposals to come out of either the Luxembourg or Brussels meetings, the PMOS said that was a matter for the Presidency. Our working assumption was that we would not receive any further proposals today, but rather that we would find out from the Council if the Presidency had new proposals to put out.
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