The Straits Times
Published on Oct 28, 2012

EU states set down markers for budget fight


BRUSSELS (AFP) - Just a month ahead of what promises to be a very difficult summit on the EU's 2014-20 budget, leaders are trading threats and blandishments, seeking advantage where they can to trim their bill.

The man in the middle, European Union president Herman Van Rompuy called last week for the 27 member states to be ready to compromise but with Britain and Denmark threatening a veto, that seems a lot to hope for just yet.

"I hope we can reach an accord in November," Mr Van Rompuy said. "For that, we need something without which nothing is possible - a sense of compromise, alongside the political will to find an accord. If there is no willingness, then we will never get there," he said.

In July, the European Commission proposed a budget of 1.03 trillion euros (S$1.62 trillion),up 5.0 per cent on the 2007-13 package, sparking howls of protest from the seven major contributor states and demands for a cut of 100 billion euros or more. Germany, France and Britain especially insist that with government budgets under pressure from all sides, the EU cannot expect to get away with such a large increase in spending.