"When I heard one after the other, all the new member countries, each poorer than the other, say that in the interest of reaching an agreement they would be ready to renounce some of their financial demands, I was ashamed."On the future of budget talks:
"During this budgetary debate there were two conceptions of Europe that clashed and will always clash. There are those who, in fact without saying it, want the big market and nothing but the big market, a high level free trade zone, and those that want a politically integrated Europe. ...I have felt for a long time this debate would blow up one day."Regarding Britain's Tony Blair who takes over the EU Presidency in two weeks:
"No comment. No opinion. No advice"My sentiments exactly regarding the meltdown of the EU's budget renegotiations that took place Friday. France and Germany want their outrageous farm subsidies to continue while stripping Great Britain of its rebate, negotiated 20 years ago by Margaret Thatcher. The UK is the 2nd largest contributor to the EU's budget, after Germany, and contributes 2 and one half times more than France, Europe's largest country. The Blair government will not sacrifice its own citizen's welfare to support the selfish French and Germans.
From the Norman / Hun coalition: Chirac, speaking on Britain's role in the debate:
"He (Blair) wanted to keep the entirety of his check (the British rebate). ...I deplore the fact that the United Kingdom refused to contribute a reasonable and equitable share of the expenses of enlargement."Schroder:
"The fact that there was no deal is due solely to the completely inflexible stance of the British and the Dutch ...Britain in particular had not been prepared to compromise on its budget rebate. ...With this, Britain refused to make its contribution to enlargement. That's regrettable."From the 10 poorest members and wannabees: Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka:
"My proposal was a reaction to what I perceived as the selfishness of some member states. I asked, is it all about money, if so how much?"Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa:
"The fact that we don not have a budget is not disturbing. What is disturbing is the atmosphere in the EU."
The budget fight showed the "new Europe which emerged from expansion was not being seriously considered by the old EU members."Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek:
"It is ridiculous and disappointing and for us new EU members absolutely incomprehensible."The Issues:
The British and their allies in Eastern Europe and Denmark want the European Union to further reduce trade and employment barriers and adopt more free market principles.
France and some of its allies, meanwhile, reject what they characterize as the "Anglo-Saxon economic model" and want to preserve social values such as a shorter work week, high welfare benefits and restrictions to prevent low-paid workers from Eastern Europe from flooding the Western member countries and undercutting the higher salaries there.
Spain and Italy objected to proposals by the EU executive committee to take away funds designated for their impoverished southern regions, redirecting that money to poor, mostly eastern bloc countries that joined the EU last year.
Sweden and the Netherlands, the highest per-capita contributor to the EU budget, demanded their tithes be reduced. Other countries disagreed on the sizes of caps that should be put on EU spending.
Blair said he would consider reducing the rebate only if agricultural subsidies, which account for nearly half the EU budget and which benefit France disproportionately, were overhauled.
"If we want to remove the British rebate, and we are happy to put it on the table, we have to remove the reasons for its existence," he said.French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac refused to consider the suggestion, and on this point the talks collapsed.
He said that under the proposal, expenditure on agriculture would have been seven times the amount being paid out on science, technology and research.
"That is not a sensible prioritisation of Europe's spending in the early 21st century," he said.
"That does not correspond to the reform that Europe needs if it is to be fit for purpose in the early 21st century."
The Numbers: What has Tony Blair's panties bunched are these proportions of EU spending:
Total Annual Budget - 106.3 billion Euros ($120 bln)That's 46.2% of the total EU budget goes to support farmers and there are not many farmers in Britain.
Foreign Aid: 8.2%
Regional Aid: 30.5%
Agricultural Aid: 46.2%
I do not understand the French and Germans. I do not understand them at all. Their government refuses to force the people to understand that the huge government subsidies they receive are untenable. There is not enough money. Neither the French people nor the Germans will work hard enough to produce the funds necessary to support these government subsidies. On the other hand, if these people were willing to work that hard, most of the subsidies would not be needed.
Others with No comment, No opinion, No advice: Project Nothing, The English Guy, Radio News America, V's Blog, Europe Constitution Blog, The Quicky, I didn't quite catch that, Slovakia News, Boy, you're going to carry that weight, Joe Gandelman, Don Singleton, Macroblog, Dialog International, Dutchblog Israel, Sressweg, James Joyner, Shot in the Dark, Prof. Bainbridge,