Merkel, Chirac reject Blair's EU budget plans

9th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

9 December 2005, BERLIN - Germany and France have rejected the controversial European budget plans drawn up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair as unacceptable and indicated they intend to work towards a common approach to resolve the conflict over London's proposals.

9 December 2005

BERLIN - Germany and France have rejected the controversial European budget plans drawn up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair as unacceptable and indicated they intend to work towards a common approach to resolve the conflict over London's proposals.

Speaking in Berlin before the start of an informal meeting with French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the British budget proposals for the 25-member bloc as "not sufficient".

The meeting between Merkel and Chirac formed part of the build-up to next week's E.U. leaders' summit in Brussels, which is expected to be dominated by the proposed 2007-13 budget package.

Britain currently holds the E.U. six-month rotating presidency.

Blair has been criss-crossing Europe ahead of next week's summit to try to sell his budget proposal, which includes a big cut in development funds for the E.U.'s 10 new largely Central and Eastern European members.

However, Chirac and Merkel differed over the role that Britain's annual rebate would play in the talks over E.U. finances.

Merkel told reporters that she did not want to load up the negotiations over E.U. finances by making demands on certain countries. She did not want to be specific, she said.

The chancellor went on to say that she accepted the rebate could form part of the solution to the conflict over E.U. finances and that it was important that the summit come to an agreement.

Expressing his dissatisfaction with the budget proposals presented by the British, Chirac called for a lasting new formula for the British rebate.

"The current (budget) proposal is not satisfactory from the French point of view," Chirac said.

The British budget plan, which sets out cuts in spending to 847 billion euros (992 billion dollars) from an 870 billion-euro package that E.U. leaders failed to approve in June has been criticized from Brussels to Warsaw.

Merkel is to meet Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende on Monday for another round of talks on the budget. Like Germany, the Netherlands is a net contributor to the E.U. budget.

DPA

Subject: German news

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