Published in EUobserver, 14 June 2005
In the aftermath of the French and Dutch referendums, nothing can be taken at face value in the EU. The debate about the EU budget and the British rebate is a perfect example.
There is suspicion in the UK that it has been raised by Jacques Chirac for purely tactical reasons. He is sore about the British financial deal, true, but the new budget does not need to be agreed until this time next year. Why raise it now?
Well, it serves to deflect attention in France from the embarrassing rejection of his European policy by his voters. And it deflects attention in the rest of Europe onto Tony Blair as the man who is holding things back. It’s not Jacques’ fault that the constitutional process has ground to a halt, it’s Tony’s.
But Chirac’s apparent cynicism isn’t quite so ignoble, because the rebate was genuinely a factor in the two referendum defeats.
Read the whole article at 050614euobserver