EU leaders meeting in Brussels adjourn talks on €1 trillion budget talks

Thursday 22 November 2012 23.41
Herman Van Rompuy (L) and José Manuel Barroso will hold 'confessionals' with EU leaders
Herman Van Rompuy (L) and José Manuel Barroso will hold 'confessionals' with EU leaders

Talks between European Union leaders in Brussels on a new seven-year budget have adjourned and will resume at midday tomorrow.

It is understood the leaders are studying details of a new compromise budget.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in Brussels for the meeting on a €1 trillion, seven-year budget to run from 2014 to 2020.

The figure represents an increase of between 4% and 6%.

Officials have said for the seven-year budget framework the only viable basis is substantial cuts in spending for 2014-2020.

Some net contributors to the EU budget, such as Britain and Germany, are firmly agreed on the need for cuts.

Other powerful states, such as France and Poland, are determined to resist sacrifices directly affecting their interests.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has already proposed cutting the European Commission's planned €1,091bn budget by about €80bn.

EU officials say that represents a real terms cut of about €20bn compared with the current expenditure ceiling of €1,034bn for 2007-2013, which Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron could use to claim victory in the summit.

Britain along with Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands is pushing for even deeper cuts of at least €100bn to the Commission's blueprint.

All 27 member states have a veto but Mr Cameron, under pressure from Tory eurosceptics, has been most vociferous in threatening to wield it.

Unlike previous budget deals, which EU leaders had to thrash out among themselves, Mr Van Rompuy has assumed the role of chief negotiator at this week's summit.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is on hand to crunch the numbers.

The pair were expected to hold ten-minute individual "confessionals" with each of the EU's 27 leaders during the day in an attempt to discover where their ultimate red lines lie.

The Taoiseach has said the EU needs a budget that is fit for purpose and focused on stimulating growth.

In advance of the summit, Mr Kenny gave an address in Brussels on the priorities for the Irish Presidency of the EU, which begins next January.

He stated that creating growth and jobs would be at the heart of the Irish Presidency and that there was a 100% determination to make a difference.

For Ireland, that will mean protecting the Common Agricultural Policy, which provides huge assistance to the agri-food sector.

If this summit fails to deliver a compromise, then Ireland will have to try secure agreement next year during its presidency.

Meanwhile, The top German at the European Central Bank has urged his own country to compromise in a stand-off over aid to Greece.

Germany, has led resistance within the eurozone to calls from the IMF and others to accept losses on their Greek debt holdings to allow Greece a chance to grow again.

Greece's international creditors will hold crunch talks next Monday their third meeting in as many weeks.

The aim is to unlock loans needed to avert bankruptcy for the stricken nation.

The EU's top economic official said today a deal could be struck.

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