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Key EU budget talks deliver compromise offer

Update: May, 07/2013 - 11:45

BRUSSELS– Crisis talks between leaders of the EU's three institutions on Monday threw up a compromise on the bloc's 2014-2020 budget, just days before a key European summit, French EU lawmaker Alain Lamassoure said.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament chief Martin Schultz and Irish premier Enda Kenny, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, struck a deal to break a deadlock over the next budget as a summit of feuding national leaders looms on May 22.

The European Union, after an ever-expanding budget since its post-WWII foundations, faces its first real-terms spending cuts to mirror national austerity, if a deal reached among national capitals earlier this year is implemented.

But the Commission – the EU's vast civil service – and the Parliament, growing in clout and ambition, are opposed to the cuts. Leaders needed to find agreement to meet more than 11 billion euros ($14.4 billion) in unpaid 2012 bills.

"The states must agree to immediately pay out a first tranche of 7.3 billion euros when finance ministers meet Tuesday next week and must commit to pay up within the year a leftover 3.9 billion," Lamassoure said.

But the Commission – the EU's vast civil service – and the Parliament, growing in clout and ambition, are opposed to cuts.

The extra bill for 2012 for the biggest EU member governments is significant: two billion euros for Germany, 1.8 billion for France and 1.2 billion for Britain.

The EU Parliament – which has threatened to torpedo entirely the planned 2014-2020 budget if last year's debts are not paid in full – votes on the issue in July.AFP



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