Friday, December 16, 2005

Europe looks at twin defeats of budget and WTO

It's not surprising that Europeans aren't feeling too well these days. Winter has set in, they can't get close to a meaningful budget agreeement for funding the EU's institutions, and they look set to absorb much of the blame at the doomed WTO talks.

The politicians are busily crafting responses as to why their country is not to blame for these further examples of discord and disunity. Is it any wonder that it seems as if the nations are in a never ending political circus /campaign?

Here is the latest from the Financial Times on the EU budget talks:

Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister, on Thursday night warned that a deal on a new seven-year European Union budget was “very much hanging in the balance”, at the start of a highly charged summit in Brussels.

Mr Blair, the host of the two-day summit, is under pressure from France and Poland for the UK to pay several billion euros more towards the cost of the EU’s expansion to eastern Europe and to agree to pay “a fair share” of future enlargement costs.

Although many EU diplomats expect a budget deal on Friday, Mr Blair says his room for manoeuvre is “narrow”. He will face intense political and media criticism in Britain if he is seen to be handing over a large part of the UK’s annual rebate from the European budget. [...]

A budget agreement would put an end to the EU’s debilitating financial dispute which has bedevilled relations in the 25-member club for most of 2005, compounding the sense of crisis that followed the rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters in the spring.

While Mr Blair is expected to give ground on the rebate, he will insist that Mr Chirac should be prepared to at least countenance the option of further farm subsidy cuts during the EU spending round, following an expenditure review in 2009. [...]


There will doubtless be a budget agreement of sorts before the year is out, but it will only postpone the deeper philosophical arguments which are already overdue. Chirac wants to avoid this until the next decade, when talks on budgeting agriculture subsidies must begin.

And here is news from the WTO meeting in Hong Kong (aka the last world moonbat congress of 2006. The next gathering of moonbat protesters will be here in Switzerland at the World Economic forum):
Pressure mounted on the European Union on Thursday to agree a firm date for eliminating farm export subsidies, as World Trade Organisation ministers struggled to find ways to move the Doha trade round forward at the Hong Kong ministerial meeting that opened on Tuesday. [...]

The US and the G20 say breaking the deadlock in agriculture is the key to making progress in the rest of the negotiations. They insist the onus is on the EU to improve its offer on market access and are pressing it to agree this week to a commitment to phasing out all export subsidies by 2010. [...]

So, another opportunity to help the emerging world missed, largely because France prefers pandering to the home voters, where agricultural subsidies have been turned into a political third rail.