Anorak News | Money For Nothing

Money For Nothing

by | 13th, June 2005

‘FORGET jobs, poverty, welfare, education, the military and Turkey and know that the issue at the very forefront of European minds is Britain’s £3.2bn EU budget rebate.

”Once more onto the rebate, dear friends”

The UK’s chief opponent in the spat over who takes what from the huge European money pot is French President Jacques Chirac.

But he’s not getting it all his own way. As the Times says, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stepped up the Government’s attempt to “throw the ball back in the French court” by insisting the rebate is fair because France gets just under £7bn a year in agricultural subsidies.

Straw has yet to turn this ball into a gun-stone – he’s no more Henry V than Chirac is a callow Dauphin – but he is on the offensive and talking a good game.

As Straw tells the Guardian: “The rebate is not the issue, and people are deluded if they think it is the issue.”

So what is the issue, Jack? “The rebate is a symptom of a fundamentally distorted budget system that continues to give the UK the lowest receipts per capita of any country because our agricultural sector is efficient and relatively small.”

A million turkey twizzlers can’t be wrong.

So the UK will not give up its rebate. France will not consider altering what it gives its bellicose farmers. Which means a battle is brewing.

And, as the Times shows, the members of the EU club are taking sides. The paper uses a graphic to show whether each of the EU’s 25 member states supports France or the UK.

On the French side are Austria, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Portugal and Spain. It’s an intriguing alliance, and it is a surprise to see Portugal, Britain’s oldest ally, in the French camp.

All the rest are backing the UK. Which means that in terms of numbers, we win 17-8. Hurrah!

And what’s more, it has clear ramifications on that other great institution of European life: the Eurovision Song Contest.

Come back, Javine, your country needs you, and that rebate…’

Posted: 13th, June 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink