EU Leaders Work on Seven-year Budget

By:  Warren Mass
11/26/2012
       
EU Leaders Work on Seven-year Budget

The European Council meeting in which EU leaders will attempt to reach an agreement on the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 began in Brussels on November 22 and EU leaders continue in their struggle to find common ground to set a budget.

The European Council meeting in which EU leaders will attempt to reach an agreement on the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for 2014-2020 began in Brussels on November 22 and EU leaders continue in their struggle to find common ground to set a budget.

BBC News reported that UK Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters in Brussels on Friday that this was not "a time for tinkering" with the EU's 2014-2020 budget, and "unaffordable spending" should be cut. "It isn't the time for moving money from one part of the budget to another," Cameron said. Cuts are "what's happening at home and that's what needs to happen here."

Cameron was reacting to a proposal from summit chairman Herman Van Rompuy (who is also President of the European Council and a former prime minister of Belgium) that keeps the spending ceiling in place but reallocates funds.

During the early stages of the summit, Cameron met with French President François Hollande and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement that she doubts the summit will reach a deal and President Hollande's warning that an agreement might not be possible, the BBC's Matthew Price reported from Brussels that "the chances of success do not look great."

A Reuters news report noted that Cameron seeks a real-terms freeze in EU spending between 2014 and 2020, and also is pressuring the EU to cut its salary expenses by 10 percent, raise EU officials' retirement age from 63 to 68, and reduce their generous pensions benefits — measures that would cut about €6 billion from the seven-year budget, largely a symbolic reduction. The report noted that Cameron's position is geared to capitalize on an increasing anti-EU mood in Britain, where even the media has become skeptical of the EU and has portrayed the budding regional government as a wasteful bureaucracy overloaded with staff receiving overly generous compensation packages. Reuters notes that Cameron's stance may also appease the anti-EU camp in his ruling Conservative Party.

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