EU Budget Talks End in Deadlock, Retry in 2013, Bulgaria Optimistic

Bulgaria in EU | November 23, 2012, Friday // 19:09|  views

UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo by EPA/BGNES

European Union leaders failed to reach agreement on Friday on the bloc's 2014-2020 budget, with  European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announcing that talks will resume early next year.

The talks were called off in less than two days, as most countries rejected deeper spending cuts demanded by Britain and its allies.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said the talks had failed due to "important differences of opinion - especially in overall size of the budget".

The European Commission had originally called for a budget of EUR v1.025 trillion, BBC has reminded.

Its position was supported by the European Parliament and a number of countries, including Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and Spain.

While most states backed some increase in the budget, several, mostly the big net contributors, argued it was unacceptable at a time of austerity.

Speaking after the summit, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that Brussels seemed to live in a "parallel universe" in which cuts were not necessary.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was sympathetic towards Cameron's view - but no more than she was to all countries involved in the discussion.

"The discussions, both the bilateral discussions and the common discussion, have shown us that there is sufficient potential for an agreement," she added.

French President Francois Hollande said the summit had made "progress".

"There were no threats, no ultimatums," he told reporters. "Angela Merkel and I both agreed that it would be better to take some time out because we want there to be an agreement."

Without naming the UK, he also said it was time the system of budget rebates was reconsidered.

"It is a paradox, because some net contributors [EU countries that pay in more than they get back] get some of the money back even though they are in a situation where they are wealthy enough for them not to get this money back," he said.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite remarked that the atmosphere at the summit had been "surprisingly good because the divergence in opinions was so large that there was nothing to argue about".

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov however voiced optimism at the end of the summit, saying talks helped each country understand the important differences of opinion, a crucial prerequisite for solving them next year.

"We all feel more optimistic because we came here with very divergent views and requests. Now we are better aware of what each country wants, more familiar with the problems of the other members," said Borisov.

Commenting the future budget implications for Bulgaria, he said the country has a chance to be allocated more money for infrastructure, competitiveness and administrative capacity projects.

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Tags: budget, EU, UK, David Cameron, Bulgaria, cuts, Herman van Rompuy, European Commission


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