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UK's pounds 3bn rebate 'has to go' admits Blair.

Britain's pounds 3 billion rebate from the European Union is 'an anomaly that has to go', Tony Blair said yesterday.

But he made clear that bringing the rebate to an end could only come in parallel with radical reform of the EU's hugely expensive Common Agricultural Policy.

Mr Blair was speaking in 10 Downing Street following a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson.

He was asked whether, in the aftermath of the unsuccessful negotiations over the EU's budget last week, there was any prospect of a deal during Britain's six-month presidency of the EU which starts next month.

Mr Blair said: 'I think it is possible. We have got to work for it. It is important, particularly for the accession countries that want to know they have a budget in place.

'We have made it clear all the way through that we are prepared not just to discuss and negotiate upon, but to recognise that the rebate is an anomaly that has to go, but it has to go in the context of the other anomaly being changed.'

Mr Blair was warned by France's ambassador to London not to use the UK's presidency, which begins on July 1to block agreement on the budget in a divisive way.

Gerard Errera accused Britain of 'clinging' to its rebate and rejected accusations that France was standing in the way of modernisation of the EU because of its determination to retain the Common Agricultural Policy
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 22, 2005
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