Spain puts pressure on Blair for EU budget concession

16th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 December 2005, BRUSSELS — Tony Blair was forced to make a concession on the European Union budget after pressure from Spain, Germany and France.

17 December 2005

BRUSSELS — Tony Blair was forced to make a concession on the European Union budget after pressure from Spain, Germany and France.

The three leaders, supported by other countries, demanded Britain reduce its rebate in order to help pay for the EU budget in 2007-2013.

Blair agreed to cut the British rebate by EUR 10.5 billion but at the same time farming subsidies paid to all EU countries, will also be reduced.

During tense talks in Brussels on Friday, Blair had held a series of meetings with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, French president Jacques Chirac and the Austrian chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel.

Key stumbling blocks had been the British rebate and cuts to farming subsidies.

Britain wanted to keep the rebate secured by former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, while France opposes cuts to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of which it is the largest beneficiary.

Finally, the agreement will set the overall budget at about 1.045 percent of the EU's gross national income, well below the 1.24 percent sought by the European Commission.

Britain, which holds the rotating EU presidency until 31 December, said it would offer no further concessions unless France agreed to allow the possibility of serious reform of the CAP in three years' time.

France said any change to the CAP must be linked to cuts to the UK's rebate, to which it is a major contributor.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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