» Thursday, July 8, 2004

EU Rebate

Asked if the Prime Minister was in favour of keeping the UK’s EU rebate, the PMOS said that if he was being asked about today’s FT report, he would point out that not only had the European Commission not yet published its proposals, but that this was a process which was due to last eighteen months. That said, we continued to believe that the rebate was justified because while it was a fact that, relative to other EU countries, the UK population per head had grown more prosperous over the past ten years, the distortions in expenditure still remained. This was partly a result of policies such as the CAP which tended to favour other countries. Asked if he was implying that the rebate was negotiable, the PMOS said that he would disagree with the journalist’s interpretation of his comments. Our position on the rebate had not changed. Put to him that any changes to the rebate had been ruled out in the European Constitution, the PMOS said that our approach to the rebate had not changed and we had made that clear in the negotiations on the Constitution. Put to him that the Constitution had only maintained the veto but had not ruled out negotiations, the PMOS agreed that the veto had been maintained but pointed out that it was based on unanimity. Asked to give a guarantee that there would be no negotiations on the rebate, the PMOS repeated that our position on this issue had not changed. Asked if the approach we were taking involved saying that we would veto any changes or that we would be willing to look at changes to take into account the possibility that other countries might have a justified claim for a rebate of their own, the PMOS repeated that our approach had not changed. We would continue to argue that our rebate was fully justified. In answer to further questions, the PMOS said that the UK, along with Germany and France, was pressing for expenditure to be limited to 1% of gross national income against the Commission’s proposal for 1.26%. In our view, that that had yet to be fully taken account of.

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

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