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Blair Spokesman: Issues remain difficult at EU Council
2005-12-16 10:07:35

by Maria Myles

Brussels, Dec 16 (CNA) -- A lot of hard and good work has been done this morning between the British Presidency of the European Union and many key players in the ongoing discussions about the EU budget, Tom Kelly official spokesman for the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said here today.

Speaking at a press briefing, following numerous bilateral meetings between Blair and the leaders of Germany, France, Spain, Austria and Hungary, Kelly said ''the issues remain difficult.''

He said the PM will brief his EU counterparts at the informal working lunch they are to have at 1330 local time about ''where we are'' and then decide whether there is sufficient room to put forward a revised proposal on the budget for the period 2007 and 2013.

''We want to get an agreement, we do not think the issues will get any easier,'' Kelly told the press, adding that if there is a deal at the end of the day it will not be an ''ideal deal but a realistic and rational one.''

Asked by CNA on the possibility of a new British proposal to break the deadlock, he said at the plenary meeting of all 25 leaders at the informal lunch Blair will set out his course of action with regard to a new proposal.

However it remains to be seen whether the presidency will in fact decide to put forward a new proposal. At this stage Blair concentrates his efforts on repeated meetings with the leaders, in particular the French President and the German Chancellor.

The reaction of the 24 to what Blair has to say will probably determine whether he will put forward a new proposal or not, according to Greek diplomatic sources who believe there is a change in the climate that EU leaders were faced with back in June when budget proposals were also on the agenda of their summit.

''The national positions on the matters under discussion here continue to be loaded but there is also a desire and one could say a momentum for agreement. However nothing is certain, as things stand at present,'' the same sources have said.

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