UK's Blair may give ground on cherished rebate

30th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Nov 30 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing to set aside parts of Britain's EU rebate even if farm subsidies in countries such as France are not cut immediately, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

LONDON, Nov 30 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing to set aside parts of Britain's EU rebate even if farm subsidies in countries such as France are not cut immediately, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Blair is ready to split it into parts that he can defend as "fair" -- including Britain's rebate from the Common Agricultural Policy -- and others that are harder to justify, including spending on enlargement of the EU, the Daily Telegraph said, citing government sources.

The plans follow intense pressure on Blair from other member states to give ground on Britain's treasured rebate to prevent the collapse of talks on a new European Union budget for 2007 to 2013, the newspaper said.

Elements of the rebate earmarked for "adjustment" would be discussed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on December 15 and 16, it reported.

They would take place even if French President Jacques Chirac fails to offer a pledge to reform the CAP.

Under the proposal, the value of the rebate -- worth more than three billion pounds (EUR 4.3bn) last year -- would continue to rise but would be much smaller than if he had maintained a deal struck by former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher more than two decades ago.

Members of the main opposition Conservative Party said the plan amounted to "surrender".

Europe spokesman Grahame Brady told The Daily Telegraph: "This is the final failure in Britain's dismal six-month presidency of the EU."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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