Germany backs French 'no' on cutting subsidies

13th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

13 June 2005, BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman said on Monday that Germany backed France's rejection of calls for cuts to European Union farm subsidies demanded by Britain.

13 June 2005

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman said on Monday that Germany backed France's rejection of calls for cuts to European Union farm subsidies demanded by Britain.

Bela Anda, the German government's chief spokesman, said Berlin saw a farm spending deal agreed in 2002 for the period through 2013 as having paved the way for last year's European Union enlargement in which 10 mainly east European states joined the bloc.

"The chancellor and the German government will not put this agricultural compromise into question," said Anda at a news briefing.

EU agriculture subsidies gobble up about 40 percent of the bloc's annual budget of EUR 100 billion.

British prime minister Tony Blair, who is under intense pressure to give up London's annual rebate from the EU, has attempted to shift the debate to cutting farm subsidies which benefit France.

Last year London received EUR 5.2 billion in its EU rebate which was agreed in 1984 to compensate the fact that Britain has relatively few farmers.

But French president Jacques Chirac has bluntly dismissed calls to cut farm spending before 2013.

British leaders counter there can be no discussion of London's EU rebate without opening up the question of farm subsidy benefits for Paris.

Schroeder and Blair are expected to discuss both the British rebate and other EU financial issues when they meet in Berlin later on Monday.

Leaders of the 25 EU states are seeking to hammer out the bloc's budget - worth up to EUR 900 billion - for the period 2007 to 2013.

But Anda admitted the chances of clinching a budget deal at the EU's 16-17 June summit in Brussels were moderate at best.

"We have a long way to go given the stands taken by several countries," said Anda.

DPA

Subject: German news

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