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At the end of the second day of the informal meeting of the EU Finance Ministers of Finance and the Economy, held in Luxembourg on 13 and 14 May 2005, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, in his capacity as current Chairman of the "Ecofin" Council, spoke about the debates the Ministers had on public development aid and the financial perspectives:
"This morning we discussed public development aid and all the ambitions we should have in this field. The Presidency supported the Commission’s proposal to establish by 2010 an intermediate objective of 0.56 % of GDP for public development aid, which should allow us to reach 0.7% in 2015. This proposal was welcomed positively by the majority. Nonetheless, it continues to raise questions in some countries, so that between now and the June European Council meeting, further efforts to persuade and explain feasibility must be made so that we can reach an agreement either on this intermediate objective or another one, or on the procedures for arriving at the intermediate objective to which I referred.
We believe that in setting up an international financial facility, full attention should be paid to financing it. In this context, we agreed to introduce a tax on air tickets in the 25 or 27 States of the Union, the procedures for which shall be set over the coming weeks and must still be adopted by the 7 June "Ecofin" Council or maybe even by the European Council in mid-June. This will be a voluntary tax, but some Member States are suggesting that it be made compulsory, although the choice is left to the Member States. All the Member States agree to see the introduction of such a tax as an obligation to achieve a particular result.
We prepared a Memorandum of Understanding on financial stability.
We discussed the "own resources" part of the financial perspectives. It is obvious that an agreement cannot only be reached if we agree on spending, but also if we reach an agreement on the "revenue" part of the future European budget. I can say that we are not in agreement at this time. This will probably continue to be the case until the very last minute. And then everyone will tell you that he agreed only because he had to draw on his responsibilities as a Statesman. We could have reached an agreement today, but the conditions stood in the way. (..)
So I draw the following conclusions. The proposal that the Presidency will submit on the financial perspectives for 2007 to 2013 shall be – as I have often said – between the position of the Member States who would like a cap on the European ambition of 1% of its national wealth and the Commission’s proposal. It is obvious that the Commission’s proposals must be scaled down very substantially for the Member States to be amenable to reaching an agreement. It is obvious that the position of the six Member States who are in favour of limiting the financial perspectives to 1% must be reviewed by those Member States because not all of the others agree with this position. We must find special treatment for the British rebate, the exact procedures for which should be revised because you should know that the Government of the United Kingdom has "strong feelings" regarding the British rebate. Finally, we should find special arrangements for the Member States who are in a net contributor position and who wish to be treated on an equal footing and in complete fairness with the other Member States who pay less and are just as rich as they are.
And so these are four components of a difficult situation that we shall have to try to resolve before the end of our Presidency. I am convinced that the next Presidency will not be able to do so."
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