France voices reservations on EU budget plan

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France on Thursday criticised parts of a European Union budget plan that foresees extra spending for crisis funds and other special projects, but backed some points rejected by Britain and Germany.

Brussels had proposed capping EU spending for 2014 to 2020 at 1.05 percent of GDP, equivalent to 1.025 billion euros ($1.5 billion) a year, but adding 58.3 million euros for financial crisis funds and space and nuclear projects.

"France has always said that the stability of its contribution to the EU budget was indispensable. The European Commission's proposal does not meet this aim," the French government said in a statement.

Britain on Wednesday slammed the budget as "unrealistic" and "too large", while Germany on Thursday called it "irresponsibly high".

France did not go that far, saying in the statement that it "demands annual caps on credit payments fixed at a realistic level which covers all European spending" including special projects.

It said it remained "open to discussion" on a proposal to levy EU funds from member countries' VAT revenues and to tax financial transactions.

France also said it supported changes to the system of rebates enjoyed notably by Britain.

"France has always been against rebates and cannot envisage keeping them permanently," it said.

It supported the "stabilisation of the budget" for the Common Agricultural Policy, of which French farmers are the greatest beneficiaries, to prevent it from shrinking. It demanded tighter budget control for regional handouts.

© 2011 AFP

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