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EU Budget Summit Wrestles over Cuts

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | February 8, 2013, Friday // 08:55| Views: 1183 | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: EU Budget Summit Wrestles over Cuts The two-day summit aims to reach a deal that eluded the leaders last November. Photo by BBC

EU leaders have worked through the night to try to agree a budget deal, amid deep divisions over spending priorities for the next seven years, BBC reported.

The Brussels summit chair, Herman Van Rompuy, urged them to compromise and keep the EU budget focused on growth, innovation and creating jobs.

The two-day summit aims to reach a deal that eluded the leaders last November.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he will not accept a deal unless further cuts are made to the draft.

He said the figures being proposed for 2014-2020 "need to come down - and if they don't... there won't be a deal".

Any one of the 27 member states can veto a budget deal - a fact which makes the negotiations all the more difficult.

Talks began later than scheduled on Thursday evening after leaders explored possible compromises in small groups earlier in the day.

The summit pits Cameron and some northern European allies - who want EU spending reined in tightly - against mostly eastern and southern European countries who want to protect the big budget areas of agriculture and cohesion funding for the poorest regions.

France's President Francois Hollande, a socialist, champions European "solidarity" and opposes the deeper cuts urged by Cameron. Hollande signaled some readiness to compromise, but said he would not accept a budget that "disregards agriculture and ignores growth".

France is the biggest beneficiary from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, which accounts for about one-third of the entire budget.

Cameron also had a separate meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Van Rompuy and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. President Hollande failed to turn up for that meeting because of "scheduling difficulties", UK officials said.

The Commission - the EU's executive body - had originally wanted a budget ceiling of 1.025tn euros for 2014-2020, a 5% increase. In November that ceiling was trimmed back to 973bn euros, equivalent to 943bn euros in actual payments.

But with other EU spending commitments included, that would still give an overall budget of 1.011tn euros.

The UK, Germany and other northern European nations want to lower EU spending to mirror the cuts being made by national governments.

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