EU bud­get dis­cus­sions col­lapse

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

BRUSSELS

The first round in two weeks of tough talks on the Euro­pean Union bud­get col­lapsed af­ter aus­ter­ity- minded states re­fused to plug a 2012 bud­get short­fall in funds des­tined for Europe’s needy.

Talks had been sched­uled to ap­prove a bud­get for 2013 but in­stead snagged straight off on an 8.9-bil­lion-euro hole in this year’s spend­ing, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures pro­vided by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

Ap­proval for the mas­sive EU bud­get must be agreed be­tween the 27 mem­ber states and the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, but MEP Alain La­mas­soure, who heads the assem­bly’s bud­get com­mit­tee, said: “The coun­cil (of min­is­ters) were un­able to ne­go­ti­ate so the ne­go­ti­a­tions were sus­pended. The col­lapse of the 2013 bud­get talks, which lead­ers will have a last-chance op­por­tu­nity to re­sume on Tues­day, au­gurs badly for a Novem­ber 22-23 sum­mit called to set­tle the bloc’s even more hotly dis­puted 2014-2020 spend­ing plans.

“If we suc­ceed in these ne­go­ti­a­tions now, we’ll cre­ate a bet­ter at­mos­phere for con­ver­gence and agree­ment in the (sum­mit) ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Cyprus’s deputy EU min­is­ter An­dreas Mavroy­an­nis, who chaired ses­sion, had said.

But even be­fore con­sid­er­ing spend­ing for 2013, gov­ern­ments re­fused to con­trib­ute funds to make up this year’s short­fall, threat­en­ing the fu­ture of a wide range of so­cial pro­grammes in­clud­ing the Eras­mus stu­dent ex­change scheme.

It also in­cluded 670 mil­lion eu­ros set aside to com­pen­sate Ital­ian earth­quake vic­tims. Of­fi­cials said EU gov­ern­ments had pledged to en­sure Italy would re­ceive the funds.

At the talks, eight nations - Aus­tria, Bri­tain, Den­mark, Ger­many, France, Fin­land, the Nether­lands and Swe­den - de­manded that the EU’s ex­ec­u­tive use 15 bil­lion eu­ros of non-spent monies to plug the hole. But the Com­mis­sion said those monies had al­ready been spent.

Mavroy­an­nis said con­cil­i­a­tion ef­forts would continue un­til a Tues­day dead­line. The bud­get com­mis­sioner Janusz Le­wan­doswki sug­gested cut­ting the 2012 bill by de­duct­ing 1.4 bil­lion eu­ros not payable this year, EU sources said.

Poland’s prime min­is­ter mean­while urged net ben­e­fi­ciary EU mem­bers not to block talks on the 2014- 2020 bud­get at the up­com­ing sum­mit.

“A veto of the bud­get is not in Poland’s in­ter­est. It cre­ates the op­por­tu­nity to find so­lu­tions for the fu­ture - it shouldn’t be used ex­cept as a last re­sort,” Prime Min­is­ter Don­ald Tusk said.

“There are some coun­tries that would be very pleased to see one of the net ben­e­fi­ciary coun­tries im­pose their veto. Poland won’t do it,” he added.

For 2013, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Euro­pean Par­lia­ment are seek­ing a 6.8-per cent in­crease - or nine bil­lion eu­ros - to 138 bil­lion eu­ros to bol­ster growth and jobs in the slow­ing econ­omy.

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