Britain: Not Enough Progress at EU Budget Summit

Posted November 23rd, 2012 at 6:55 am (UTC-5)
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European Union leaders are meeting Friday in Brussels for a second day on a proposed budget that has divided the 27-nation bloc as it confronts economic crisis.

In a battle pitting wealthy member states against those seeking a bigger aid budget, British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened to use his veto unless spending levels are frozen. The current 2007-2013 budget is $1.28 trillion and the next one would cover spending through 2020.

Mr. Cameron said Friday he did not think there has been “enough progress” at the summit. He said the diplomats need to cut what he called “unaffordable spending.” The prime minister said those kinds of cuts are being made in Britain's budget and need to be made at the EU as well.

The seven-year EU budget funds programs to spur farming and growth in the bloc's less developed regions and is equivalent to about 1 percent of the EU's gross domestic product.

Mr. Cameron, under constant pressure from skeptics in his Tory party, is the main proponent of imposing limits on EU spending. He is joined by the Netherlands, Sweden and, to a lesser extent, Germany.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, backs more spending, arguing that cross-border initiatives will help create economic growth and jobs.

Sixteen of the EU's most financially and economically vulnerable countries have joined forces to oppose cuts to funds earmarked for economic growth and development. The countries include not only traditionally poorer member states, many in Eastern Europe, but also those hardest hit by the financial crisis, like Greece, Portugal and Spain.