NEWS

Athens examines Brussels fallout

The Greek government will begin scrutinizing the potential implications of the collapse of efforts by the 25 European Union member states at last week’s summit to reach agreement on the next Union budget, with its hopes being retrained on a possible solution under Britain’s EU presidency starting in 10 days’ time. «I would like to believe that a new attempt toward reaching consensus will be undertaken soon,» said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, adding, «There is no time prediction for when the negotiations could start.» His comments came early Saturday after a clash between two blocs, led by France and Germany on one hand and Britain and the Netherlands on the other, over EU spending in 2007-2013. The row primarily between Britain and France over reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and the freezing of the annual British rebate undermined the chances of a deal being struck. «It would have been a political success for Europe if we reached an agreement,» said Karamanlis, who revealed that Greece had been close to securing 20 billion euros in funding. Apart from the financial implications, Athens is worried about what this latest collapse – in the wake of French and Dutch «no» votes on the European Constitution – will mean for the prospects of Turkey’s EU membership talks. These are due to start in October and Karamanlis said Greece would keep supporting Ankara’s entry. «We have absolutely no reason to abandon the policy that we have been following until today,» he said.