Blair makes last-minute concession on Spanish EU aid
14 December 2005, LONDON — Britain has made last-minute concessions over the European Union budget which would grant Spain aid until 2013
14 December 2005
LONDON — Britain has made last-minute concessions over the European Union budget which would grant Spain aid until 2013
Madrid had fought to extend EU aid until 2013, though Britain, which holds the presidency of the Council of Europe, wanted it to be cut in 2010.
Spain is among a number of countries offered sweeteners in order to get them to agree to Britain's budget proposals at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.
In a bid to break the deadlock over the budget, Tony Blair proposed a small increase in the size of the budget, but made no new cuts to Britain's rebate.
British foreign secretary Jack Straw said the revised UK proposal was fair to the EU's new member states, but still maintained "tough budget discipline".
It would increase the 2007-13 budget by a total of EUR 2.5 billion.
The UK's first proposal, last week, suggested an EUR 8 billion cut in the rebate over the seven years.
But it was rejected by other EU member states.
The new proposal also offers new enticements to Central European and Baltic states, Austria, Finland, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
It also proposes a major increase in spending on research and development.
Britain's first budget offer was widely criticised for punishing the 10 new countries which joined the EU in 2004 with a 10 percent cut in development aid, compared with a budget proposal put forward by Luxembourg earlier this year.
The cut in aid was balanced, however, by steps to help the countries take full advantage of the money available to them.
The new UK proposal extends the scope of those changes, and also allows Greece and Portugal to benefit from them.
It also offers Slovakia and Lithuania extra money for decommissioning nuclear power plants, and additional development funds for Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia.
Poland, seen as the most likely of the new member states to reject the deal, would get an extra EUR 1.2 billion.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news