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)