» Wednesday, November 30, 2005

EU Rebate

Asked if the EU rebate was an "indivisible whole", the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that as the Prime Minister had said to Digby Jones yesterday, the position on the rebate was in line with what he had said in the summer and in various speeches to the EU Parliament, Mansion House speech etc. The PMOS said he was not going to give any more details as he did not want to give a running commentary on the negotiations. What we had said, and believed was important was that the recognised that the Accession countries wanted to have access to the additional and substantial money that they would receive under any deal as quickly as possible. That was why we believed that a deal was necessary, but it would be difficult.

Asked if the rebate could be split into two parts, with one part on the CAP and the other on developing poorer countries, as the language used implies that it would be possible, the PMOS said: no, what he was reflecting was what the Accession countries had said to us. What was as important to the Accessions countries was getting access to the money now, rather than waiting for some deal in the future. That was why, if possible, we would like to do a deal now, but everyone knew the difficulties of doing that, hence not giving a running commentary.

Asked if "no" was also the answer to the question of whether the rebate could be split in two, the PMOS said it was simply reasking the same question that he had already answered. He said again that he was not going to get into the details of the discussions, as the Prime Minister gave his answer yesterday, and that was consistent with what he had said all the way through.

Asked if it would be fair to say that the French appeared to be "digging in their heels" with regards to the CAP, therefore were there any circumstances in which we would be prepared to give up half the rebate, even if there was not a big change on the CAP, the PMOS replied that not only was the journalist building in presumptions about the French position, but also he could not answer the question without going into the detail, and he was not going to do that. The simple fact was that giving a running commentary in the middle of negotiations could only harm the prospect of agreement. What people should not do was to take what the PMOS had said as either agreeing with assertions that were made, or in some way acquiescence. The PMOS said he was simply not going to comment.

Asked to clarify that a deal on the budget could be done without the various issues being solved at this time, the PMOS replied that we were determined to try and do everything we could to get a deal, not least because we recognised the position of the Accession countries. However, it was difficult, and everyone knew what those difficulties were.

Asked whether one was not dependent on the other, however, the PMOS said again the position was as the Prime Minister had set out.

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

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