» Thursday, June 16, 2005

EU Finance

Asked how long the EU Council meeting was likely to go on for, the PMOS asked if the question was trying to determine how many shirts he’d packed! The PMOS said the honest answer was they were not going to have a sense of how long this summit was going to be until tomorrow afternoon. As the Prime Minister said in Paris, our assessment remained that it looked difficult. The PMOS said that the sensible, but not necessarily the easiest thing to do, was to wait and see where we were tomorrow on the financing issue. With regards the Constitution, our sense was of the growing acceptance that the sensible way forward was to have a pause for reflection. Again, however, we would listen to the discussions tonight in Brussels.

Asked for clarification about the Prime Minister’s comment in January about "trying to find a way round" the finance issue, the PMOS said that what the Prime Minister was reflecting was what he had said since the French vote. This was that the UK could only go forward with the Constitution if there was clarity about what it was that people were being asked to vote on. The Prime Minister had also said that if there was a Constitution, then there would be a British vote. The time now was to not only reflect on the implications of the two votes, and what that meant for the people in Europe, but also, as the Prime Minister emphasised in Paris, the need to address their views and issues, such as jobs and the impact of globalisation, and how we met those challenges. Those were the important things, and that was the case that the Prime Minister would put forward to his colleagues.

Asked if the Prime Minister was considering paying off the British share of the contribution to the rebate of the Acession countries, the PMOS said that what mattered was the whole package, but we would not be in a position to make that assessment until tomorrow afternoon. Therefore, we were not going to give a running commentary on individual elements.

Put to the PMOS that he was not denying that the proposals along those lines might be "kicking around", the PMOS said that one person putting words into his mouth was annoying, but two people was irritating, though not unusual! There would be all sorts of briefings, suggestions and proposals, but the sensible thing to do was wait for the Presidency to say what it thought best to resolve matters. We were determined to stick to two principles: the first was to recognise that whilst the rebate was a symptom, and not the problem, it was necessary while the budget distortion remained. The second thing was to keep pressing for an EU budget that more accurately reflected the needs of the EU now, rather than the needs of thirty or forty years ago.

Asked if the Prime Minister had thought Peter Mandelson’s comments regarding the rebate had been helpful, the PMOS said the important thing was that we dealt with the proposals, rather than the tendency to personalise the issue.

Asked what was thought of the idea that it took the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary to stiffen the Prime Minister’s resolve, the PMOS that as he’d said, the fact the some people were giving alleged briefings at this stage was nothing new. It was not original. There was a very good discussion at Cabinet this morning that enunciated the two principles already outlined.

Asked if the Prime Minister felt isolated at all, the PMOS said the question came under the heading of hypothetical. The reality was that we would argue, and had argued, about why the rebate was justified. It was not a dogmatic argument, but rather one that was based on the reality that we had a distorted budget. We would continue to make the argument as to why we believed in the interests of fairness we needed the rebate. The bigger argument was also, however, about the overall structure of the EU budget.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


June 2005
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« May   Jul »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh