‘The UK rebate cannot go on.’ President Jacques Chirac once again voiced this long-held opinion at a summit in eastern France. With his German and Polish friends, he said Britain could no longer count on getting back billions of euros of contributions to the EU budget:
“We need to have a fairer financing of the EU budget, a fairer financing which would uncontestably demand looking again at the problem of the British rebate.”
Margaret Thatcher clinched the deal 20 years ago. The European Community had ten member states at the time. It was to offset receiving so little out of the Common Agricultural Policy. But Britain is still one of the community budget’s largest net contributors. The current EU presidency Luxembourg proposes freezing how much London gets back. It also proposes lightening what Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden pay in. It is now disproportionately heavy.
The UK takes up the bloc’s presidency in July, and with it the chair at the 2007-2013 budget talks.