The European Union’s next multiannual budget remains on the balance after the bloc’s leaders concluded a two-day summit Friday (Nov. 23) without an agreement.
Negotiations are expected to restart early next year, with European Council Herman Van Rompuy and leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel optimistic a deal could be reached by then.
Development groups, however, have raised some concerns over the latest budget proposal put on the table at last week’s summit. Concord, a group of European-based aid groups, noted that “further disproportionate cuts” to the Global Europe heading, which includes development and humanitarian aid, were proposed.
“Why are EU leaders saying they support aid commitments, then not defending them in EU budget talks? We urgently need to see EU leaders standing up for development aid,” Concord Director Olivier Consolo said.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso made a similar call, stressing the importance of protecting the Global Europe heading, along with other accounts, in a statement released after the budget summit.
A draft of the proposal Van Rompuy reportedly offered leaders attending the summit included more than €4 billion ($5.2 billion) in cuts to the Global Europe heading, compared with the European Commission’s proposal.
The summit in Brussels was mainly characterized by disagreements over the size of the total budget and allocations per section, news agencies say. Overall, richer EU countries were seeking to either maintain spending at current levels or cut billions of euros off the commission’s proposal. Poorer countries, along with the commission and European Parliament, want to increase the budget.
Despite Van Rompuy’s individual meetings with the EU leaders in an attempt to bridge gaps, the differences proved too large for any agreement to come out of the summit. Van Rompuy and a number of EU leaders did note that the summit produced some “constructive discussions.”
If the leaders fail to agree on a budget by the end of 2013, the budget for that year will be automatically rolled over into 2014, with adjustment for inflation.
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