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Brussels call Blair courageous over EU budget

Brussels call Blair courageous over EU budget
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While supporting a wide-ranging review of the EU budget, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has added his voice to EU leaders’ praise of the British prime minister in securing a budget deal: “To be fair to him, one has to admit that Mister Blair showed courage in accepting a compromise seen by many as too little, and in his own country, in the public’s view, as too much.”

Jorge Nunez, an analyst at the European Policy Studies Centre, appears to support the view that
the accord helps restore Blair’s European credentials: “I think he has partially sacrificed (the rebate) but on the other side he has given something that is a bit more important, let’s say from a wider perspective than fighting for this rebate, which was actually getting out of line. And he knew it was getting out of line. It is just for the (British) press that it is not getting out of line, but everyone who calculates knows that the rebate was too big.”

London agreed to lower its rebate by 10.5 billion euros over seven years. It will still get around five and a half billion euros back each year. Friday’s compromise does fall short of Blair’s stated ambition of a shift in EU spending to research. Farm support and rural development will get some 360 billion euros and cohesion funding another 300 billion. Competitivity spending will amount to around seventy billion.