Britain has provoked fury and threats of veto by the content of its last-minute proposals for changes to the EU budget. No ground has been given on the issue of the controversial rebate. The UK has also suggested overall spending increases slightly. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw outlined the proposals in the House of Commons.
“Under our proposals now, we propose a total net contribution of 58bn euros, an increase of 8 billion above that 50 billion floor,” he said. “We judge this to be a fair contribution. Were we not to make an offer of this magnitude, our contribution would not fairly reflect our position as one of the most prosperous nations in the EU.” That is not good enough, say the other EU members. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso condemned the package as “wholly inadequate” and is worried about the prospect of reaching a deal this week. “Does it not concern the British Presidency that the overwhelming majority of this house and the most relevant political groups unanimously reject your proposal?” he asked. France has rejected Britain’s latest proposals, saying the UK rebate must be reformed before a deal can be done. Jacques Chirac will meet Tony Blair before the start of the summit to discuss their differences It seems the battle lines are already drawn for the summit.