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Cardiff summit Tuesday, 16 June, 1998, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Cardiff summit closes without budget decision
The oval table
The final morning of the summit was spent discussing achievements under the UK's presidency
The summit which draws the UK's EU presidency to a close has ended in Cardiff

The two-day meeting finished after a final bout of wrangling over who contributes what to the coffers.

Fears that Germany's demand for a Thatcher-style rebate might dominate the summit proved groundless although Chancellor Kohl did signal his intention to demand change at a later date.

A draft of the final text revealed the tensions, noting that "some member states have called for the creation of a mechanism for correcting budgetary imbalances but that some other member states have opposed this".

The final morning of the summit was spent around the rugby-ball shaped conference table where the leaders thrashed out the final details of the communiqué which will sum up the achievements of the UK's' six-month presidency.

A spokesman for the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said there were "differing opinions" on how the communiqué should record the discussions about the future of the EU budget.

"Cardiff is not the place where these issues are going to be resolved," the spokesman said.

The European Commission will come up with proposals for reform in the autumn but Mr Blair again stressed that the UK would not give up its rebate, which has so far netted an accumulated £20bn in abatement since 1984.

Tony Blair and Helmut Kohl
Blair and Kohl: budget contributions have yet to be agreed
The Prime Minister said: "You would expect me to defend the British rebate strongly and of course I will, but people understand the case that others are making."

He added that Chancellor Kohl had made his case very powerfully "but it is not going to be resolved at the moment because it is a simple disagreement."

But Mr Blair said the meeting had agreed a programme of economic reform that included help for medium and small businesses, an action plan on employment, and new measures to improve the European single market.

He said the leaders had also reached agreements on tackling crime, on the environment and on the so-called millennium computer bug.

They have also issued what Mr Blair said was a a strongly-worded statement on Kosovo.

The final day of the summit was dominated by the presence of South African President, Nelson Mandela.

He was granted the freedom of the city and county of Cardiff at a ceremony full of goodwill and song.

The event was followed by a farewell lunch hosted by all 15 EU leaders - a tribute ahead of Mr Mandela's bowing out of mainstream politics next year.

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BBC Political correspondent Huw Edwards sums up the Cardiff summit
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