In Brussels, the British Prime Minister has begun wrapping up his six-month EU presidency by appealing to members of the European Parliament to approve a budget deal struck by ministers over the weekend.
The deal needs to be given the green light by MEPs next year, and already there are demands for a larger budget.
Blair said: “The purpose of the budget was to enable enlargement to be a success and that is one of the reasons why it was so important that we secured this budget deal. It was important also to do so on the basis of fairness in terms of the contributions the different countries made.”
“We were prepared, as you know, to ensure that we made our fair share to the costs of enlargement, but we also were prepared to make sure that we did so on a basis that for the first time establishes rough parity between countries of a similar size within the EU”.
The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso said: “Our ambition for Europe goes way beyond the budget. Having said that I recognise that in the current circumstances, especially with the pressure being applied on the budget by many member states, it will be difficult to obtain a better agreement, honestly.”
The budget for six years from 2007 would be 862.4 billion euros, 10 billion less than the sum described as a minimum by parliament earlier this year.