EU ‘in a deep crisis’

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who currently holds the EU presidency, described the failure as a ‘deep crisis’.

“People will tell you next that Europe is not in a crisis. It is in a deep crisis,” Mr Juncker said.

Recriminations have been levelled at Britain and the Netherlands for holding out on a resolution by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

“I believe a deal would have been possible. The fact that there wasn’t one is solely due to the inflexible stance of the British and the Dutch,” Mr Schroeder said.

The Dutch had been demanding a reduction in their annual payments to the union, the highest per capita of the member states, arguing they bear an unfair burden.

Britain resisted all efforts to trim back its annual rebate, worth €5.3 b last year, and expected to climb to an average €7.1b during the next budget period from 2007 to 2013.

London refused to consider capping the lucrative rebate, secured 21 years ago, unless the EU undertook wide-ranging budget reforms centring on the bloc’s farm aid contributions which heavily favour France.

An eleventh-hour proposal aimed at breaking the impasse was described as “even worse than before.”

“From the British perspective, financially, we think it’s even worse than it was before,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

An EU commitment to a thorough budget review – a key British demand – “has been diluted even further” the spokesman said.

Mr Blair is due to take over the presidency of the EU in two weeks and will inherit the budget dispute along with doubt over the future of the union’s beleaguered constitution.

Yesterday, EU leaders agreed to push back a deadline for ratifying the treaty to after November 2006 following the defeat of two referenda in France and the Netherlands this month.

The charter must be voted in by each of the union’s 25 member states to come into force.

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