Latest crisis threatens EU talks and Turkish ambitions

Latest crisis threatens EU talks and Turkish ambitions
By Stephen Castle in Luxembourg

The Independent/UK
14 June 2005

Europe’s political crisis threatens to engulf talks on EU spending,
moves to ratify the European constitution and Turkey’s ambitions to
join the bloc.

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, said negotiations on an
EU budget for 2007-13 were deadlocked and might have to be abandoned
by EU leaders when they meet for a summit on Thursday.

And Turkey’s prospects of starting negotiations on joining the EU
as planned on 3 October remained unclear amid contradictory signals
from Paris.

In comments likely to alarm countries in southern and eastern Europe
which stand to gain from EU subsidies, Mr Fischer said: “It’s up to the
[EU] presidency to decide how realistic an attempt to reach agreement
is at this stage, or whether we stick with an interim result that
the British presidency [which begins in July] can take forward.” The
Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini raised the same idea in
discussions with his French and British counterparts.

The French Foreign Minister Philippe Douze-Blazy renewed the offensive
against the British budget rebate, arguing that the costs of last
year’s enlargement are being shirked by the UK. He said: “The question
is raised: can one country decide not to help pay for this?”

But Peter Mandelson, Britain’s European commissioner, suggested that
the UK could let the new Eastern European countries off their payments
to the rebate.The idea might break up the alliance of 24 states which
are lined up against Britain over the issue.

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