EU in 'deep crisis' as budget talks fail
18 June 2005, BRUSSELS — European leaders failed overnight to reach a deal on the EU budget at a crucial summit in Brussels, sending the union into "deep crisis"
18 June 2005
BRUSSELS — European leaders failed overnight to reach a deal on the EU budget at a crucial summit in Brussels, sending the union into "deep crisis"
Britain rejected a proposal to have its rebate frozen, a decision sharply criticised by French President Jacques Chirac.
However, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said any move on its rebate must be met with reform of EU farm subsidies, a compromise France rejected.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) currently represents 40 percent of the EU budget, while the British rebate amounts to EUR 4.4 billion.
After talks broke down overnight, EU President and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU was in "deep crisis" and accused some nations of lacking the political will to reach agreement.
Friday's summit had been suspended for several hours in the afternoon as Juncker entered into individual discussions with leaders to solve the impasse over the 2007-2013 budget.
Luxembourg then drew up a new budgetary proposal. However, Britain rejected the compromise proposals as did the Netherlands, one of the net contributors to the EU budget. Finland, Spain and Sweden were also disatisfied.
During Friday's talks, Belgium — which receives more than what it pays to the EU — attempted to get greater financial support for the Henegouwen region of Belgium, Flemish broadcaster VRT reported.
Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said he was pleased with a plan to allocate EUR 617 million to Henegouwen, more than what it currently receives.
However, Wallonian Prime Minister Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe said earlier this month EUR 700 million was necessary to stimulate the Henegouwen economy.
Meanwhile, despite the decision by EU leaders to scrap the November 2006 deadline for ratification of the EU Constitution on Thursday night, the Brussels summit broke up without any plan to save the treaty.
Verhofstadt had earlier been positive about the decision to delay ratification, which paved the way for a 'period of reflection' of one year.
The aim was to better educate the public about the treaty, but member states were free to decide if they wanted to continue with the ratification process.
Belgium's five regional parliament's were to ratify the constitution by September, following the federal parliament's approval earlier this year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news