The UK rebate and the EU budget battle

It’s becoming fairly clear, I think, that the British position will be: We won’t discuss the UK rebate in isolation from the factors that make it necessary and justified, namely the distorting effects of the CAP and the disproportionate contribution that the UK has to make towards it (even with the rebate). We are happy to discuss the need for a firm commitment to CAP reform and the implications of such reform for the rebate, but we shall not debate the rebate in isolation. If there’s an attempt to reduce or abolish the rebate without a corresponding commitment to CAP reform, we shan’t hesitate to use our veto. Over to you, Jacques.

Chirac and Schroeder are now so badly wounded by the French and Dutch referendum results and their own administrations’ unpopularity at home that Blair, recently re-elected despite Iraq and not having to face another election as prime minister, is now in a far stronger position than either of them. He knows that a UK veto in defence of the rebate would do him nothing but good at home, and that many other EU governments would have a good deal of sympathy with his insistence on linking CAP reform to any change in the rebate. He holds some impressive cards. I doubt if he or Brown is worried.


(Posted as a comment on Thersites’s blog)

3 Responses

  1. Brian,
    It is of course true that both Chirac and Schroeder are “damaged” goods. Chirac more than Schroeder. After all, the ECT has been ratified in Germany. But the idea that any of the front runners to replace Chirac 2007, I think, and Schroeder much sooner, are likely to pursue policies, significantly different from their predecessors is fanciful. I suspect what both governments will remember is the loudmouthing that Blair and Straw are presently engaged in.
    Megaphone diplomacy may not be the best way to move forward here?

  2. Anonymous says:

    From Peter Harvey,


    I couldn’t agree more. While there are those in Britain who see politics as a gladiatorial spectator sport, that is not the European way. Blair’s revival of Thatcherite tactics will only annoy people here, however much it goes down well with the Nationalsit lobby at home.

  3. Brian says:

    Somehow I have a feeling that not “annoying” people elsewhere in Europe may be quite a long way down Blair’s list of priorities and objectives. Defending the national interest could just possibly rank somewhat higher, especially when doing so is also consistent with promoting the reform and health of the EU. Doing that could have a rather wide appeal to British domestic opinion, not just to these mysterious Nationalists. But whoever gets to be annoyed or pleased isn’t really the point: it’s a matter of promoting British and European interests, which is what diplomacy is all about, or should be.