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British EU budget plan deemed worth discussing

brussels bureau

British EU budget plan deemed worth discussing


No one is satisfied with the British EU presidency’s budget proposal but it is gaining some acceptance among the bloc’s members as a basis for negotiation. After talks with Estonia’s prime minister Andrus Ansip, Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso softened his initial criticism:

“We are asking now the British presidency to look at it again. We believe a small step from the British presidency can be a big step for our enlarged Europe and specifically for the new member states.”

To end a deadlock over the budget, several countries said Britain should accept a bigger cut in its own rebate and not slash aid. Britain on Monday offered to pay 8 billion euros more over seven years towards enlargement costs but said more would only come off if others agreed to reduce farm spending.

London’s budget proposal for the year’s 2007-2013 is 846 billion euros. The previous president proposed 871 billion.

Certain partners expressed surprise, saying the UK plan was so self-serving. The Dutch gave it a guarded welcome. Italy rejected it, calling it comprehensively negative, and Germany sounded pessimistic about reaching a consensus at the summit next week. Easterners said they would not be bullied into accepting a bad deal.

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