Merkel in key position at EU budget summit

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Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is the ‘woman in the middle’. She backs Blair in principle but does not want to jeopardise ties with France and must avoid Germany ending up footing the EU bill once again.

The quality of stateswomanship of Germany’s new Chancellor Angela Merkel will be closely watched as the EU summit seeks to conclude a deal on 16 December. Analysts see her in everyone’s camp and no-one’s camp, and thus in a key position to help broker a deal.

Contrary to France and Poland, which have voiced their loud opposition to the UK budget proposal of 849 billion euros for the 2007-2013 period, Merkel has given vague backing to the UK Presidency’s line and the overall aim of keeping the EU budget on a tight rein. At the same time she has said that the interests of the new member states should not be sacrificed.

At the start of negotiations on 15 December, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair saw a tough summit ahead with a deal “very much hanging in the balance”.    

Meeting with European Parliament political group leaders prior to the start of the summit, Blair was warned that the EP would veto a budget deal if the proposal of 14 December were not improved.

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