The Foreign Ministers of the nine countries in the European Economic Community (EEC) met in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday (January 14) to try to hammer out a solution to the knotty problem of the regional fund.
The Foreign Ministers of the nine countries in the European Economic Community (EEC) met in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday (January 14) to try to hammer out a solution to the knotty problem of the regional fund. But as the first session went on into the night, the United Kingdom and West Germany -- the two major protagonists -- said their position was still fairly wide apart.
The first problem is the size of the fund. The United Kingdom has proposed a three-year budget of 3,00 million units of account (UA) (1,500 million pounds sterling) to finance development projects in poor EEC areas. But West Germany has stated firmly that 600 million (UA) (300 million pounds sterling) is quite adequate. Since the start of the meeting, the United Kingdom has said that the EEC Commission's proposal of 2,250 million UA was acceptable, but West Germany has shown no sign of agreeing.
A second problem is the distribution of the fund. All the countries have agreed to abandon the original policy by which the fund was spread equally over approximately 50 per cent of the EEC area. they all now agree that a higher proportion should go to priority areas, such as southern Italy, the Irish Republic and North-East England, but exactly what proportion is still far from decided.
The West German Foreign Minister Herr Walter School said in his opening speech that they should not let disagreement on this matter hold up progress in other fields, such as common monetary and energy policies. But they have only two days to solve the problem and a solution is not yet in sight.