EU leaders prepare for bitter fight over budget



Associated Press

Published — Friday 23 November 2012

Last update 23 November 2012 4:06 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BRUSSELS: British Prime Minister David Cameron has set the tone for what is expected to be a bitter fight over the European Union’s budget, warning that the latest proposal for a spending ceiling does not go far enough.
Arriving at a summit of the 27 EU leaders, Cameron voiced the concerns of several countries that do not want to see an increase in the bloc’s seven-year spending plan at a time when tough spending cuts are being imposed back home.
“No, I’m not happy at all,” Cameron said about the latest offer for the 2014-2020 1 trillion euros ($ 1.28 trillion) spending ceiling, as he headed into a meeting with the author of the proposals, EU President Herman Van Rompuy.
“Clearly, at a time when we’re making difficult decisions at home over public spending, it would be quite wrong — it is quite wrong — for there to be proposals for this increased extra spending in the EU.”
“So we’re going to be negotiating very hard for a good deal for Britain’s taxpayers and for Europe’s taxpayers,” he said.
The EU budget primarily funds programs to spur growth in the bloc’s less developed regions and farming and amounts to about 1 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, backs more spending, arguing that cross-border initiatives will help to create the economic growth and jobs that the bloc of a half-billion people needs.
Facing an ever more vocal Euroskeptic electorate at home, Cameron is under huge pressure to veto any seven-year deal which would make the budget bigger. The UK and other countries that contribute more then they receive from the budget — such as the Netherlands, Sweden and, to a certain extent Germany — claim an austerity budget is the only justifiable outcome at a time when almost every member state has to cut its budget to lower debt.
Fifteen of the EU’s most financially and economically vulnerable countries have joined forces to oppose any cuts to funds earmarked for economic growth and development.
These countries include not only traditionally poorer member states, many in Eastern Europe, but also those hit hardest by the financial crisis, like Greece, Portugal and Spain.
They argue that they need sustained, even increased, help to close the wealth gap on the continent and that EU institutions need the means to implement their jobs and growth policies.
“Certain countries want to make drastic reductions in the budget. That’s a big mistake,” said Elio Di Rupo, Belgium’s prime minister.
With every country having the power of veto, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte fully realized what was coming.
“There will be quite a battle to come — the French, the British, southern Europe, eastern Europe, we all have our demands,” Rutte said. “I don’t know whether it will work out.”
Going into the open-ended summit, which might well stretch into Saturday, Van Rompuy made a first compromise proposal that leaned toward Cameron’s demands. It proposes a cut of between 3 billion euros ($ 4 billion) and 24 billion euros ($ 31 billion), depending on how the figures are read.

“With less money, we cannot do the same as before,” Van Rompuy wrote in the invitation letter he sent to the 27 leaders.
If the summit fails to find a compromise, the issue could spill over into a new meeting next month, or into next year. There is no set deadline for a deal but the closer it gets to 2014, the tougher it will be for a smooth introduction of new programs.
“In talks with colleagues, I had one message. If this doesn’t work out at once, let’s be sure that the mood is not that dark that we have to spend months on patching up personal relationships,” Rutte said.
If there is no deal up to 2014, there would be a rollover of the 2013 budget plus a 2 percent increase accounting for inflation.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education is planning to increase the role of its subsidiary committees in the region and governorates to address the issue of schools increasing the fees on one pretext or another.A source in the ministry has been quoted as s...
JEDDAH: In view of a delay by Twitter in blocking the accounts of Daesh and its supporters, Saudi Twitterati have launched an online campaign demanding closure of these accounts which are being used to spread terror by those who have links with the...
JEDDAH: A young Saudi, who was born disabled, is today considered the best and most famous painter and designer in the Kingdom, professionals working in the area say.Despite being handicapped by birth, Rakan Kurdi, 22, has never given up and has mana...
DAMMAM: All Saudi airports, particularly King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) in Dammam, lack a tourism attraction strategy which requires a formal decision from the government, said Saeed Al-Qahtani, an investor in the tourism sector.He said: “In...
JEDDAH: Interpol is looking for two Saudis — a former Jeddah mayor and former president of a sports club — who have been convicted in cases related to the 2009 flash floods here.The ex-mayor was sentenced to seven years in prison while the sports off...
RIYADH: The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently discussed here the scope of cooperation with the Kingdom’s Public Education Evaluation Commission (PEEC) in the field of education.The delegation was headed...
RIYADH: Investors and proprietors of recruitment offices have blamed the Ministry of Labor for the rise in the number of illegal brokers, saying that some of the rules are actually counterproductive and promoting black market.The ministry has put a c...
DAMMAM: A period of 20 months will be granted to deliver residential apartments for beneficiaries in the Eastern Province, starting from the day of delivering land to developers, and not from the date of signing the contract with them, according to a...
ALKHOBAR: Bribery can be eliminated by applying the laws strictly and creating public awareness besides an active role by citizens, experts say.Abdulrahman Al-Zahian, a researcher in legal affairs and public policy, said: “The Saudi anti-bribery law...
JEDDAH: Zuhair Rahbeeni, a consultant at the Pediatric and Clinical Genetics Department of Medical Genetics at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, said that the criteria used for premarital health examinations fall short of proper st...
JEDDAH: The police in Jeddah found a runaway girl after 17 days. A news website reported that she had gone missing after she took a taxi on one of Jeddah's roads.The mother of the girl said that the police found the girl on Friday after 17 days. She...
JEDDAH: Since the launch of the Asir Initiative, “Asir … a major tourism destination all year round,” under the patronage of Asir Governor and Chairman of the Tourism Development Council Prince Faisal bin Khalid at the end of 2013, the region has man...
RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU), which is leading the vanguard in promoting and supporting scientific research in the Kingdom, will host the Saudi international conference on scientific publishing for 2015 to discuss issues and challenges surround...
RIYADH: The National Committee for Contractors (NCC) at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) and representatives from the Ministry of Labor denied on Sunday delays in releasing SR2,400 in compensation to contractors once the criteria have been finaliz...
MAKKAH: Being at the front of the House of God and the peace and tranquility in the Grand Mosque are feelings that cannot be described, said Egyptian pilgrim Abdul Rahman Mustafa.The Umrah pilgrim appeared to be very happy and content. “Thank God, I...

Stay Connected

Facebook