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 Full text 
Tuesday, 26 November 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

2020 budgetary procedure: joint text (debate)

  Robert Rowland (NI). – Mr President, now that the UK is definitely leaving the EU on 31 January and ending our EUR 17 billion contribution to the EU budget, I suppose it was entirely predictable that sparks would fly and acrimony begin between the two remaining heavyweights of the EU.

It appears that Franco-German relations have hit a new low point. We have recently witnessed the unedifying display of little Napoleon himself, Emmanuel Macron, as he parades his global ambitions by humiliating NATO, and now it seems, Angela Merkel.

Ironically, the Germans are really going to miss us. Great Britain has historically acted as a buffer between those two old adversaries and a deterrent to France’s imperial tendencies. So when the German chancellor uses an English metaphor of gluing the tea cups back together again after Macron has broken them, you know it’s getting bad.

The EU budget is essentially an exercise in Franco-German game theory; even though contributions as small as a percentage of GDP the aggregate of EUR 170 billion is big enough to achieve overtly political goals. That is why we never see any reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which absorbs one third of the EU budget and acts as the world’s biggest subsidy scheme for French farmers.

But Macron wants more. He’s an avaricious little chappy. Germany will now see its contribution double over the next MFF, whereas France barely pays a euro more, net. So watching this dispute get resolved will be a welcome respite from my Brexit fatigue.

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