» Monday, November 21, 2005

EU Budget

Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to use diplomacy in the run up to the EU budget talks in December, and also was there any response to people who had said he was "leaving it far too late" to negotiate the budget, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that in terms of the latter point, Hampton Court was about setting the whole context, and we believed it successfully did that. We also had to take into account that Angela Merkel had just become Chancellor in Germany. What we had was a well thought through approach and process.

The Foreign Secretary had said in Brussels today that we would bring detailed proposals ahead of the Special Meeting of Foreign Ministers on 7th December. In no way did we underestimate the difficulties of doing a deal, but equally, no-one should underestimate our determination to try to see whether a deal was possible. The PMOS said that in terms of diplomacy, people should wait and see, but the Prime Minister was fully involved in this, and also in trying to help push movement on the WTO.

Asked what was made of Peter Mandelson’s comments regarding the budget, the PMOS replied that he did not comment on other people’s comments. Equally, we had said all along just how important getting a new budget was, especially for the Eastern European countries, so they could plan with a degree of certainty their future. It had to be the right deal, however.

Asked if the proposals would be published, or would they be put through to colleagues, the PMOS said we would have proposals put through to colleagues.

Asked did it matter if we did not get a budget deal, the PMOS said that particularly for the Eastern European countries, it was important that we did try and put some certainty into the system. Equally, as the Prime Minister set out in June in his speech to the European Parliament, and reiterated in a second speech to the EU Parliament, and at Hampton Court, it was important that Europe began to restructure its budget to meet the needs of today and the future. In terms of concentrating resources, the budget needed to be effective in meeting the challenge and the opportunity of globalisation.

Asked if the Prime Minister would discuss the budget with Chancellor Merkel during his meeting with her later this week, the PMOS it was inevitable as part of their discussions.

Asked if a change in leadership in Germany might make it easier to get a budget deal, the PMOS replied that the question was asking him to comment on the position of a new change in government before they had even taken office, and he did not think that would be very wise.

Briefing took place at 13:00 | Search for related news

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