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EU budget battle begins

Thursday, 22 Nov, 2012 - 02:04

Nov. 23 - European leaders are holding crunch talks on their spending plan for the next seven years. European Union negotiators seemed close to securing British and German backing for a deal on a nearly 1 trillion euro budget, but concessions will be needed to win support from France, Poland and some southern European states, and the talks could continue for several days. Joanna Partridge reports

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Smiles for the cameras in Brussels - but few were expecting them to last for long. EU leaders are holding crunch talks on their budget from 2014-2020. Agreeing a spending plan is always tough - but this time, the divisions seem deeper. Over a third of the 27 member states have threatened to use their veto if the talks don't go to plan. And British Prime Minister David Cameron is taking a particularly tough stance. Britain, along with Germany and other main contributors, want the EU to shave some money off the planned 1 trillion euro spending plan. SOUNDBITE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying (German): "We must be able to plan for the future. Therefore it is important we arrive at a solution. I don't know whether that will happen during Thursday and Friday. Germany wants to reach an agreement, but we might need another go. This is about the sustainability of the European Union and investment in research and development, and better use of the money." Those who benefit from EU subsidies - like Poland and Spain - don't want to see any reductions. And the EU says investment is required to tackle economic troubles. But explaining that to countries like Greece, undergoing tough austerity, won't be easy. SOUNDBITE: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, saying (English): "Cohesion is an issue of competitiveness, and growth for the whole of the European Union, not just for the countries that have the greatest need." PTC The leaders seeking cuts to the 7-year budget might use the latest euro zone manufacturing figures to strengthen their case. The numbers showed the bloc is on track for the weakest quarter since 2009, leading to fears it'll fall into a deeper recession next year. The leaders here also know they're still a long way from resolving the euro zone crisis, or even making Greece's debt sustainable. Some say "more Europe" is the answer. But if they can't agree on this budget, many will ask just what they can agree on.

EU budget battle begins

Thursday, 22 Nov, 2012 - 02:04

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