Angela Merkel, the new German Chancellor, is being credited with helping to break the EU budget deadlock (she's even been dubbed the "secret EU president": eat your hearts out, Tony Blair and Jose Manuel Barroso ! ).
Overall, Britain is giving up around 20% of the rebate it would have otherwise received over the 2007-2013 period in exchange for a commitment that EU spending (including agriculture) will be reviewed in 2008.
Needless to say, the deal is being strongly criticized in the UK by Tories and Liberal Democrats.
As the BBC political editor put it: "Tony Blair has chosen to face criticism at home in order, in part, to avoid isolation in Europe. He's also scheduled another row on the British rebate and the CAP, for three of four years' time; by then neither Mr Blair nor French president Jacques Chirac are likely to be around to take part."
THE DRAFT DEAL
- Britain accepts £7 billion cut in budget rebate, £1.4 billion more than previously offered
- Total EU budget of €861 billion, up from €849 billion, or 1.045 per cent of GDP
- Review of all EU budget including farm spending in 2008, but with no guarantee of outcome
- Eastern European countries will increase development funding, with easier access to money
THE WINNERS AND LOSERS
- Britain will have to give up roughly £7 billion of its annual rebate between 2007 and 2013, and agree to increase the size of the overall EU budget nearly to levels it rejected in June. But it won a commitment to review agricultural spending in 2008 and can claim credit for ending the long-running budget row
- France beat off attempts to cut farm spending. But it had to accept a spending review, and secured a smaller cut in the British rebate than it wished
- Germany, the EU’s largest financier, managed to reduce its net contributions to the budget. So did The Netherlands, another big financier
- Eastern Europe’s eight states secured less development funding than they had hoped for, but more than Britain originally offered. They will also have easier access to the money
- Luxembourg and Belgium, home of most EU institutions, lose from the cut in administrative expenditure
- The European Commission had €150 billion (£102 billion) cut from its original request