Cold response for EU budget plan

European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso says Britain’s latest EU budget proposals are unacceptable.

Barroso dismissed the proposals as a budget for a “mini-Europe and not the Europe that we need”. Poland, Hungary and France have also rejected the deal which sees the UK offering to pay an extra one billion euros per year into the EU budget as part of a package which would have cut aid to new members. The Netherlands and the Czech Republic gave it a cautious welcome. France said the plan “does not abide by the principle of solidarity” and did “not seem likely to bring the agreement we all want”. It also urged the British presidency to “accept a substantial and lasting reform of the British rebate” in the common interest of the European Union.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said there could be no fundamental change in the rebate without fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which subsidises farmers. Mr Straw said the proposal still envisaged an enormous amount of money for development aid in the new member states, equivalent to double the Marshall Fund spent on the reconstruction of Europe after World War Two.