» Friday, December 9, 2005


Asked if by the time the Prime Minister spoke this afternoon, there might be a clear idea of any new proposals on the EU budget, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMOS) replied that as he had said yesterday, and as was the pattern for these kinds of negotiations, the Presidency had put down proposals. Discussions would then take place with member countries, and then new proposals were put down. However, any new proposals would not be put down until the middle of next week.

Put that the Foreign Secretary had said that some new proposals might be put down on Monday, the PMOS said that as he had said at lobby yesterday, it would be the middle of next week.

Put that one of the things that most of the other member states agreed on was they wanted Britain, in one way or anther, to pay more, either by increased contributions, or by further reductions in the rebate, and was that something we were considering, the PMOS said that as he had briefed over the past few days, it was never a good idea to negotiate in public. What people needed to bear in mind was that under any proposals, we would still remain the second largest net contributor. What our proposals had done was to recognise the special position of the Accession Countries, and that it was both in this country’s economic and political interest that we helped their development.

What the Prime Minister had said, and what remained the fundamental point of our position was that we continued to press for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), hence our call for a fundamental review of the EU budget, mid-term through the next spending prospective. However, it was also important that we did not give up any part of the rebate in relation to CAP or the fifteen members. 

Asked if we thought a deal would still be possible, the PMOS replied that we still thought that there was a desire to do a deal, not least because everyone recognised the difficulties of doing a deal in the next couple of years. This would mean that the issue could fall to the EU Parliament, which would mean there would be no redistribution of money to the Accession Countries. That was not something that anybody wanted.

Asked when that mechanism would start, the PMOS said at the end of the financial period, which was in 2007. The PMOS explained that the EU Parliament would in effect "roll over" the existing EU budget.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought he was winning the argument, two days into his talks with the EU heads of state, the PMOS replied that what the Prime Minister detected was that whilst people had specific issues that they raised, nobody disputed that we were making a serious attempt to try and reach a deal. What the Prime Minister detected was a serious wish to have a deal. What that did not in any way guarantee was that we would get a deal. However, people were taking this seriously, and they recognised that we were as well.

Asked why could we not do a deal that did not involve the CAP, the PMOS said that our position was that we needed a fundamental review of the CAP, and that was central to our position.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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