Villepin rules out negotiatingfarm subsidies, calls for talks

30th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 30 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Thursday ruled out negotiation on EU farm subsidies wanted by Britain and instead called on London to "urgently" resume stalled talks on establishing a new EU budget.

PARIS, June 30 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Thursday ruled out negotiation on EU farm subsidies wanted by Britain and instead called on London to "urgently" resume stalled talks on establishing a new EU budget.

"We are prepared to discuss but not to negotiate on this issue" of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Villepin said in his first media conference since being appointed to head the French government last month.

"I think we should urgently deal with this issue (the EU budget)," he said, speaking in English.

"The ball is now in the court of our English friends," he said, switching to French.

A summit two weeks ago that was meant to come up with the EU 2007-2013 budget broke down amid acrimony between French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, each of whom had rebuffed efforts by the other to cede jealously guarded budget benefits.

Chirac blamed Blair for the summit's collapse, calling him "intransigent" for refusing to give up a EUR 5 billion budget rebate that was undermining financing of the expanded, 25-nation European Union.

Blair for his part expressed frustration with Chirac for rejecting his call for a renegotiation of the CAP, which currently funnels more than EUR 9 billion to French farmers.

The Franco-British dispute comes against the background of a deeper EU crisis triggered by France and the Netherlands' rejection of referenda on adopting an EU constitution.

Villepin, who was named prime minister in the wake of the French referendum defeat, told reporters that the current CAP was agreed by EU states -- including Britain -- in 2002 and was valid to 2013.

"This compromise is a good compromise and this compromise should be applied to 2013," he said in English.

He added that he responded to the question, voiced in English, "because I want to be sure to be perfectly understood by our British friends."

His comments came just one day before Britain takes over the European Union's rotating, six-month presidency.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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