Boost for Blair as Chirac ready to compromise over EU rebate
JACQUES CHIRAC today held out an olive branch over the EU budget deadlock as Tony Blair prepared to assume the organisation's rotating presidency.
The French President said he would after all accept the latest compromise to solve the deadlock, even though it would cost his country 6.6 billion.
Last week's Brussels Euro summit collapsed when Britain refused to give up its rebate worth more than 3 billion a year unless France cut back farming subsidies worth almost 7bn a year.
Mr Chirac refused to do so despite strong pressure from Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean Claude Juncker, who holds the presidency until Mr Blair takes over on July 1. But today Mr Chirac said he was ready to compromise.
It followed Mr Blair acknowledging after a breakfast meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Goran Persson that the rebate was "an anomaly that has to go".
But he made clear that it could only end in parallel with radical reform of the EU's hugely expensive Common Agricultural Policy, of which France is the major beneficiary.
Today's revelations from Paris increased the chance of Mr Blair being able to achieve a historic deal while he has the role of EU President.
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