Highlights: Leaders' comments from EU budget negotiations

BRUSSELS Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:14am GMT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Britain and Germany will push for deeper cuts to the European Union's proposed 1 trillion euro ($1.3 trillion) budget for 2014-2020 at a second day of summit talks on Friday, after the latest EU compromise plan ignored their calls for more restraint.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy scaled back earlier cuts to farm and regional aid spending in his latest draft compromise, in a bid to win French and Polish backing for a deal.

But he refused to deepen an 80 billion euro reduction in overall spending, leading German Chancellor Angela Merkel to warn that agreement at the summit may not be possible.

Following are comments by EU leaders and officials ahead of Friday's session:

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

"We had the opportunity to study the proposals of Mr Van Rompuy last night. I believe that we won't get where we want to be in this round either, which is a unanimous decision. We will discuss this now.

"I have always said that it wouldn't be dramatic if today were only the first step, we will see in the next hours. I think the positions are still far apart and if we need a second round we will take the time to do it."

FINNISH PRIME MINISTER JYRKI KATAINEN

ON VAN ROMPUY'S REVISED PROPOSAL:

"It's very close to what he proposed a few days ago, so the differences weren't that big. He had reallocated some resources but the overall level was exactly the same (as) what was in his previous proposal. It's very difficult to say how far we can go today, everything is open."

"I do hope that we can move on, but if that is not possible we have to come back some other day. Everything seems to be open. Some opinions are very far from each other and it's very difficult to assess at the moment what will happen today."

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON

"I don't think there has been enough progress so far.

"I mean there really is a problem in terms of there hasn't been the progress in cutting back proposals for additional spending.

"It isn't a time for tinkering, it isn't a time for moving money from one part of the budget to another.

"We need unaffordable spending cut. That is what is happening at home, that's what needs to happen here."

AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR WERNER FAYMANN

"The first thing is that I don't see an agreement among the 27 members. One of my main concerns is that we get anything together at all that will last for seven years.

"In an economic crisis, that should be our first goal, that you get a seven-year budget together if you are holding speeches about growth every day. I think we are still some way away from reaching that goal."

($1 = 0.7761 euros)

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths, Robert-Jan Bartunek and Charlie Dunmore; compiled by Rex Merrifield)

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