» Monday, November 28, 2005

CAP-EU Budget

Asked whether the PMOS could say whether today’s FT story regarding demanding budget cuts all round was "completely wrong", the PMOS replied that he did not want to give a running commentary. However, firstly, it was no secret in June that we believed the budget proposed by Luxembourg was too big. That remained our view, and therefore, that was one of the ways in which we were approaching this negotiation.

Secondly, as the Prime Minister had repeatedly said, the true nature of the accession countries would be one of things uppermost in his mind. The fact that we were going on the trip to the Ukraine, Estonia and Hungary showed that the Prime Minister still believed that this was definitely the case. In terms of how we approached it, one of the factors that was in the Prime Minister’s mind was that the accession countries wanted this deal perhaps more than anybody, because they wanted budget certainty. The PMOS said we dealt with the reality of the budget.

The PMOS also told journalists that the Prime Minister met the Taoiseach to discuss both European matters and Northern Irish matters, President Barroso, and the Lebanese Prime Minister as well.

Asked if the reality of the British proposal was that the small accession countries would "take the pain of the cut", as opposed to the French or anyone else, the PMOS said that if we got a deal, then the people who would benefit most from that deal were the accession countries. This offered them certainty and the ability to get their money. The PMOS said again he was not going to give a running commentary.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to meet either President Chirac of Chancellor Merkel, the PMOS replied that as people knew, the Prime Minister met Chancellor Merkel last week in London. Regarding meeting President Chirac, the PMOS said it depended on timings out in Barcelona and the dynamics of the room. As the PMOS said, we would be talking later in the week about how we talked to other people before the Summit meeting. Everyone would be fully informed about our thinking on the budget.

Put to the PMOS that in June, the accession countries put forward a proposal late on that was rejected, therefore, if the Prime Minister was keen that the accession countries were helped out with a deal, why was it not done in June, the PMOS said the deal was based on proposals on the size of budget and the impact on our rebate which was unacceptable to the UK. That was not because of the accession countries, and that remained the position.

Asked if we were prepared to renew our promise that we would not surrender a "penny" of the rebate unless France makes big concessions on CAP, the PMOS said the position that we outlined in June had not changed at all, and the PMOS was not going to give a running commentary on it. If people looked at the Prime Minister’s speeches that he gave in June, or to the Mansion House, then people would see that his approach had not changed.

Asked if it was possible that there could be a deal which did not involve reform of the CAP, the PMOS replied that as he said earlier, our position on the CAP had not, and would not change. As for the various parts of the deal, people should wait and see.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | Search for related news

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