EU president Britain has proposed a smaller European Union budget, drawing a strong reaction from Brussels, which called this ‘unrealistic — a budget for a mini-Europe’. This is the deal the leaders of the 25 will be asked to consider
at a summit next week. It includes cutting aid to the poorer new member states.
Foreign minister Jack Straw presented the 2007-13 proposal in the best possible light: “The new member states would receive a hundred and fifty billion euros in structural and cohesion funding under these proposals. This is an enormous amount and would represent very large new funds.
Total funding to the ten through all the European programmes would be worth twice the Marshall Fund, which funded the reconstruction of western Europe nearly 60 years ago.”
Giving his official reaction, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso did not mince words: “As it is, the proposal of the British presidency is unacceptable. It is simply not realistic. It is not realistic considering enlargement now, and the stronger Europe we want to have.” Straw called for a review in 2008 of all EU outlay and revenue, reiterating the link between London’s rebate and communal farm spending.