Latest crisis threatens EU talks and Turkish ambitions

Click to follow
The Independent Online

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.

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.

Comments