British ambassador's 'joke' email falls flat

12th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Dec 10 (AFP) - A top British ambassador has risked sparking a diplomatic row after a stinging attack on France and Poland over European Union farm subsidies made in a 'joke' email seen by a British newspaper.

LONDON, Dec 10 (AFP) - A top British ambassador has risked sparking a diplomatic row after a stinging attack on France and Poland over European Union farm subsidies made in a 'joke' email seen by a British newspaper.

Charles Crawford, the ambassador to Poland, blasted French President Jacques Chirac for creating "poverty in Africa" by supporting "inefficient" EU handouts which "bloat" rich French landowners.

In a mock speech for British Prime Minister Tony Blair or Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, he branded the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) "the most stupid, immoral state-subsidised policy in human history, give or take Communism".

Crawford, in the email seen by The Sunday Times, also slammed Poland for blocking Blair's attempts to secure an EU budget deal.

"Some will see his exasperation as revealing what ministers privately think," The Sunday Times said.

The embarrassing email, sent last Thursday, comes at a highly sensitive time.

Blair is under intense pressure from his European partners to broker a compromise budget deal at the make-or-break EU summit in Brussels which starts Thursday.

Britain's six-month term as EU president runs out at the end of December.

Crawford insisted the email was only a joke and Straw is standing by him, glad to see his "sharp sense of humour" in action.

In the email sent to officials at Downing Street and the Foreign Office, Crawford said Britain had created more jobs for Poles than the Polish government since the country was admitted to the EU in May 2004.

He suggests telling the 10 new member states that Britain wants to help them despite their "rudeness and ingratitude".

"We like you so much that we are proposing in the budget a huge new transfer of funds to you on a scale which will give your people the greatest boost in 1,000 years," he wrote.

It said: "Mon ami Jacques, with the support of most of you, is nagging me to give the EU more money while refusing to surrender an inch or even a centimetre on the CAP."

The farm subsidies were branded "a programme which uses inefficient transfers of taxpayers' money to bloat rich French landowners and so pump up food prices in Europe, thereby creating poverty in Africa, which we then fail to solve through inefficient but expensive aid programmes."

Crawford says British money spent in eastern Europe outside the EU framework would be far more efficient, avoiding "all the bollocky EU bureaucracy" and "sticky transaction costs, local and Brussels corruption, overheads and other rubbish".

Crawford told The Sunday Times: "Everyone had been working very hard and this was meant to be a joke.

"No offence was meant and I hope none is taken."

Straw told the weekly: "Charles Crawford is an excellent ambassador who has served with distinction in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw. I am glad that he has a sharp sense of humour and uses it from time to time."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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