This could be fun to watch. As Tony Blair starts to campaign for adoption of the new EU Constitution by the UK, his government is engaged in a fight with Brussels over a proposal to terminate a €4 billion bribe that was the price of UK toleration of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). bq. British officials say that the rebate is still justified because of “massive distortions” in the EU’s spending priorities, with about 40 per cent of the budget being spent on farm subsidies. “The rebate exists because the budget is massively to the advantage of some countries and to the disadvantage of others, including the UK,” one said. “It is fully justified and not negotiable.” (“Financial Times”:http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1087373563710&p=1012571727085) Mrs Thatcher, as far back as 1984, secured the “rebate” of part of the UK contributions to the EC’s general budget, now financed by a call on member states’ Value Added Tax revenues. Her cry then, when faced with the excesses of the CAP, was “I want my money back.” If only she’d stuck to her principles instead …
Peter Gallagher is a leading Australian consultant on trade and public policy.[bio].
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