EU Leaders Make Little Progress in Budget Talks

Posted November 23rd, 2012 at 10:30 am (UTC-5)
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European Union leaders made little progress Friday at a second day of talks on a new budget aimed at confronting the economic crisis facing the 27-nation bloc.

At an EU summit in Brussels, tensions remained high between wealthy member states and countries seeking a bigger aid budget.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, a supporter of freezing spending levels, said there has been no progress at the summit in cutting back proposals for more spending. He said diplomats need to reduce what he called “unaffordable spending,” saying such cuts are being made in Britain's budget and must also be made at the EU.

Mr. Cameron held talks Friday with French President Francois Hollande and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The current 2007-2013 budget is $1.28 trillion and the next one would cover spending through 2020.

Mr. Cameron, under 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.

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

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. Those 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.