No sooner had Jack Straw formally released the details of the UK presidency's much-trailed budget plan – capping the budget for 2007-13 at €847 bn compared with a previous proposal of €871 bn – then El Presidente Jose Manuel Barroso was in front of the media condemning it.
The new proposals were "unacceptable," and "not realistic" for the enlarged bloc, he said. "This proposal amounts to a budget for 'mini Europe', not the strong Europe that we need."
The plan includes cutting the UK budget rebate by €8 bn and funds for the new member states by €14 bn, as well as proposing a review of all spending – in particular CAP subsidies – in 2009.
Barroso's response has caught even seasoned Brussels-watchers by surprise. The response was delivered at lightning speed – not minutes but seconds after Straw had delivered his proposals. And, with the man from Brussels saying "no" in such an unequivocal manner, it really doesn’t leave Blair anyplace to go.