French threat to UK rebate as EU budget talks collapse

Saturday, November 24, 2012
By Paul Martin

France renews its threat to Britain’s European Union budget rebate after talks on Brussels spending ended in failure.

Bruno Waterfield and James Kirkup in Brussels
23 Nov 2012

As the EU summit broke up amid British demands for cuts, François Hollande, the president of France, signalled a fresh attempt to cut the £3 billion UK budget rebate when talks resume next year.

David Cameron accused some EU leaders of trying to isolate him in the talks, saying that only the support of allies such as Germany had allowed him to defeat “attempts to put the British in a box and do a deal without them”.

At a press conference, Mr Hollande criticised Mr Cameron over his defence of the rebate, won by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 to compensate Britain for its high payments to farm subsidies that benefit French farmers.

“The UK, through its rebate, has contributions below those of France. He put forward protection of his rebate and his refusal to contribute further,” he said.

He announced that at the next EU budget summit, France will support a proposal by Herman Van Rompuy, the EU president, to cut the rebate. The change would cost British taxpayers an extra £3 billion between 2014 and 2020.

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