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Friday, September 10, 2010

A familiar showdown

Negotiations over the size and shape of the EU budget post-2013 are just around the corner. Expect no surprises about what the main battlegrounds will be (clue: the CAP and the UK rebate).

UK Chancellor George Osborne has already sent a clear message to his colleagues in the EU.

"We are not going to give way on the rebate, and people had better know that at the beginning of the process, because they'll certainly discover it at the end", he said earlier in the week.

But despite Osbourne's comments, French Budget Minister Francois Baroin (picture) still tried to test the waters during a visit to London yesterday.

"I have made many efforts and put on the table several arguments. But I have understood that the Britons had no intention of changing their stance", he said, adding that during the talks he had also made clear that French President Nicolas Sarkozy's position on the Common Agricultural Policy "is not negotiable".

In other words, we're alooking at a tricky, but painfully familiar, starting position for the budget talks.

Baroin concluded, "at least [...] these talks have shown the determination of both our countries to defend the respective positions". (Hmm, good thing these talks took place then - for a while there we thought that the UK and France would decide not to defend their respective positions...)

But there is a simple solution to this potential deadlock: let's opt for a similar deal to that which Tony Blair struck in 2005, when he infamously gave away £9bn of the UK's rebate in return for vague promises of CAP reform, which amounted to absolutely nothing in the end.

But this time, let's reverse the terms: France and other member states agree to cut the CAP by, say, 50% and repatriate regional spending for member states with a GDP of 90% or more of the EU average (France could actually agree to the latter solution even outside discussions about the UK's rebate and CAP, since the country is now a net contributor).

In return, the UK would promise a "review" or "health check" of its rebate - alongside other member states' rebates - in 2018, with the view to possibly scrapping it altogether.

Unfair? Unreasonable?


Anonymous said...

get out of the eu altogether, they are no good to us, we are just money bags to them

Unknown said...

The people of this country are lazy, stupid or just plain mad, the EU has done NOTHING for England except to bring it to it's knees. MY OWN OPINION is that the people running this stupid country are on the take, why else would anybody even half sensible throw so much money at a useless cause which we don't have in the first place???

marion said...

very fed up with the EU dictating to us to get us to subsidise what they require. I would rather be out of the Eu than in, and much prefer our old allegiances to the Commonwealth. I never ever voted to be in Europe in anyway!! Europe still hasn't had an audit and am so fed up with the 2 parliaments and all the rubbish emp's that we have to pay for. They never would help us in anyway. Marion

Anonymous said...

At what point would Open Europe recommend leaving the EU?

Anonymous said...

At what point would Open Europe recommend leaving the EU?

Anonymous said...

I think the sentiments in this comment thread say it all.

Just look at the farce being suggested by the Coalition about EU power transfers....


PeterR said...

At a time when many citizens and nations across the EU are experiencing severe difficulties it is beyond belief that it is being proposed that EU budgets are increased. There should be an immediate reduction in contributions in line with those being proposed by member nations for their own citizens. There is absolutely no excuse for not doing this.

It is time we had a national referendum on what kind of EU we would like to see in the future, if any!