EU President: Budget Deal Possible Early Next Year

Posted November 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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European Union President Herman Van Rompuy says an EU budget deal is possible early next year, despite the end of a two-day summit in Brussels Friday that failed to reach agreement.

Van Rompuy downplayed division, saying that “constructive discussions” at the summit meant a deal for the 27-nation bloc could be viable in early 2013.

The summit was aimed at confronting the economic crisis facing the European Union, but 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 diplomats need to reduce what he called “unaffordable spending.” He said such cuts are being made in Britain's budget and must also be made at the EU.

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, supports 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.