France up in arms over European defence budget

13th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Nov 13, 2006 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie lashed out at Britain Monday for blocking the draft budget of the European Defence Agency (EDA) for 2009.

BRUSSELS, Nov 13, 2006 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie lashed out at Britain Monday for blocking the draft budget of the European Defence Agency (EDA) for 2009.

"We had a blockage. The British demanded that it be revised down" from a planned EUR 29 million to EUR 28 million, she told reporters after talks with her European Union counterparts in Brussels.

"I indicated that I could not see any coherence between the declarations of Mr (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair underlining his commitment to European defence ... and this very static position," she said.

She said she hoped for "a unblocking in the weeks to come."

Faced with the impasse over the 2009 budget, the EU's defence ministers unanimously approved next year's budget for the fledgling EDA, which amounts to EUR 22.1 million.

An in-principle agreement was also reached on the 2008 budget, which will rise to EUR 27 million, an EDA official said, on condition of anonymity.

A British defence ministry spokesman said that Britain's rejection of the 2009 budget had been "about transparency: on what that money is spent on."

He said that rather than putting in more money, Britain wanted to see the EDA's resources used more effectively.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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