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Euronotes: The latest from Brussels


New year, same story
When Blair agreed the EU budget deal in December 2005, the press focused on giving up £7 billion of the rebate. More significant is that our net contribution nearly doubles from £2.8 to £5.5 billion a year between 2007 and 2013; an extra £19 billion net over 7 years. The gross contribution, after the reduced rebate, rises to £10.2 billion a year, £71 billion over the whole period.

Plus ça change...
Valery Giscard d'Estaing, author of the EU Constitution, said in several European newspapers that the Reform Treaty is the same as the Constitution: "The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content." He said it wouldn't be honest to tell the British voters the substance of the text had changed. He believes that the flame of a United Europe can be rekindled using the Treaty. Nicolas Sarkozy told MEPs that referendums on the Treaty were "dangerous" and would be lost in France, Britain and elsewhere.

MPs slam risks
The Commons European Scrutiny Committee warns Britain would face "new and unquantifiable risks" as a result of the EU Reform Treaty, arguing that the government's "red lines" would not provide adequate protection against increased EU jurisdiction. Its report foresees "a steady transfer of jurisdiction to the Commission and the European Court of Justice in the areas of civil and criminal justice."

The MPs also criticised the lack of opportunity for debate before the Treaty was signed: "The process could not have been better designed to marginalise the role of national parliaments and to curtail public debate, until it has become too late for such debate to have any effect on the agreements which have been reached."

Waving the flag
Sixteen countries have signed up to an annex to the EU Reform Treaty on the importance of the EU flag, anthem and motto. It says these symbols, and also the euro and Europe Day on 9 May, "will continue to be symbols of common membership of citizens to the European Union."