Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday criticized British Prime Minister Tony Blair's EU budget plan, saying the money was taken from the poor countries in the 25-member bloc and given to the richest ones. Blair's plan for the EU's 2007-2013 budget proposes slashing overall spending by Ђ24 billion (US$28 billion) and substantially cutting aid to the bloc's newest and poorest members. "I am disappointed about the proposal made by the British presidency," Fogh Rasmussen said at his weekly news conference. "First of all, the savings in the proposals affect the poorest countries," he told reporters. "Second, there are too big rebates to the rich countries and, third, the proposal doesn't live up to the wish to modernize the budget of the EU."
The British proposal would trim Ђ14 billion (US$16 billion) in aid for new EU members from the original Ђ847 billion (US$993 billion) package. It would also take Ђ8 billion (US$9.4 billion) off Britain's budget rebate and Ђ2 billion (US$2.3 billion) from agriculture subsidies.
Fogh Rasmussen called for more money for scientific research and education. He also urged Blair to reduce the British rebate. "I know that we cannot get all our ideal wishes fulfilled. I have now described our position and we must, of course, all be ready to compromise," he said. "But I believe the British plan has a wrong profile."
Over the next weeks, EU leaders will try to reach a compromise on the budget before a summit later this month, reports the AP. I.L.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea