» Monday, December 5, 2005

Bilateral EU Discussions

The PMOS told journalists that the Prime Minister would hold a series of bilateral meetings on Thursday and Friday this week. On Thursday he would meet the Prime Minister’s of Portugal, Finland, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands. On Friday he would have a phone call with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, he would meet Bertie Ahern of the Republic of Ireland, the Greek Prime Minister, and Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain.

Asked if there were any plans for the Prime Minister to speak with President Chirac, the PMOS said that if we needed to we would speak to others. We would let people know of any other contacts that took place. Asked if the fact that he wasn’t meeting with President Chirac was indicative that the Prime Minister had given up on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the PMOS said no. We had not given up on the CAP, the whole point of the next few weeks was that we would talk to people when we needed to talk to them. This was not an exclusive or inclusive list of everybody we would talk to between now and the 15th December. The PMOS reminded journalists that this was a negotiation and therefore you did not do everything at once. We would gradually work our way through those we needed to talk to and this shouldn’t be taken as ruling out talking to anyone.

Asked by the Sun why we weren’t giving up on the CAP given that clearly it wasn’t going to happen, the PMOS said that he envied the Sun’s ability to get to the 15th of December and look back. Unfortunately he did not have such an ability. The Prime Minister had made it clear that our first preference remained a deal on the CAP, not least to help with the WTO negotiations. Equally he had made it clear that there would need to be a fundamental change in the CAP for there to be a change in the rebate as regards the amount of money that goes from it to the CAP or to the 15 original member states. That remained the position. However we were not in a position where we could force people to make an agreement and that remained the basic position. We should wait and see what happened.

Put to him that Peter Mandelson had said that Gordon Brown had gone over the top in his criticism of the CAP, the PMOS said that Commissioner Mandelson spoke for himself and it wasn’t for him to comment on what he said.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Search for related news

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