December 15, 2005

The rebate? A disadvantage?

Another interesting European idea, Anatole Kaletsky is suggesting that Blair should give up on trying to defend the rebate. Her reasons are fairly compelling, first it really is not that much money.

a diplomatic breach now with Central Europe would splinter the increasingly powerful coalition of economically liberal, anti-federalist EU countries that are willing to back many British reform initiatives in opposition to the more protectionist, integrationist coalition centred on France.
If trying to defend the rebate leads to the next budget being stalled then the prospect of not getting other peoples money thrown at them by the EU commision (after the commision scrims it's cut off the top) and Britain blaimed this could alienate the countries that should be are best allies if the EU is to be trimmed down into something haft useful.

the need to defend the rebate has distracted British politicians from much more important European issues, often at crucial turning points in EU negotiations. Arguments over the rebate weakened Mrs Thatcher when she was trying to block the European exchange-rate mechanism and distracted John Major when he should have been focusing on the flaws in the Maastricht treaty
Defending the only thing that they have ever got out of the EU leads to not being able to get anything else, which could (but probably won't be) better. Of course where Britian to leave the EU entirely then the rebate, and everything else would become irrelevant.


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