January 25, 2020 / 4:27 PM / 22 days ago

EU council head calls budget meeting for February 20

FILE PHOTO: European Council President Charles Michel and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (not pictured) hold a joint news conference in Vienna, Austria, January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Council President Charles Michel on Saturday called a meeting of EU leaders for Feb. 20 to decide on the bloc’s long-term budget for the next seven years, an issue that has split the 27 countries because of different priorities and Britain’s exit.

“The time has come to reach an agreement at our level on the Multiannual Financial Framework,” Michel said in a statement, referring to the 2021-2027 joint budget.

“Any postponement would create serious practical and political problems and jeopardise the continuation of current programs and policies as well as the launch of new ones,” he said, urging all the countries to compromise.

Britain’s withdrawal from the EU means there will be less money at the same time as the European Commission under new leader Ursula von der Leyen wants funding for tackling climate change and migration.

While the EU executive has proposed a budget of 1.11% of the gross national income of the 27 member states, the European Parliament is aiming for 1.3%, while some countries are pushing for no more than 1%.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Giles Elgood

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