The British are coming!

Despite its supposed role as honest broker during the presidency, Britain shows no sign of letting up on its aggressive calls for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Chancellor Gordon Brown said on Thursday Europe and the United States should agree to end farm subsidies by 2010. A day earlier he referred to the "hypocrisy of developed-country protectionism" that condemned parts of Africa to poverty.

Straw said farm spending, now at 40 percent of the EU budget, "should be reduced and, over a period, reduced very significantly".(...)

Even without a budget deal, Blair wants to turn the EU's crisis into an opportunity to shape debate in the bloc.

Backed by the country's strong economy, Blair will argue Europe can adopt a more flexible, market-based economic framework -- essential to compete against emerging giants such as China and India -- without dispensing with social protection.

He will also push to secure an agreement on liberalising services across the bloc, a move that could also upset France.