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Home >> World
UPDATED: 14:07, December 13, 2005
Barroso says EU mid-term budget "within reach"
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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday that a deal on the EU budget for 2007-2013 is "within reach."

A budget deal "is within reach" if Britain, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency, could offer the bloc's new member states "a fairer deal" and agree to "a further and permanent change" in its own budget rebate, he said.

"If the British presidency follows this line we will have an agreement," he told journalists in Brussels ahead of a decisive EU summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, Barroso called on European leaders to "find the political will, the wisdom to get that agreement."

Barroso has written to all governments and heads of state of EU member states as well as the British EU presidency, setting out the essential elements for reaching a deal on the mid-term budget at the EU's decision-making council this week.

Failure is not an option, said Barroso.

He urged London to heed the criticism of fellow member states, who have rejected the latest budget proposal put forward by Britain last week as "unacceptable."

Britain should increase overall EU spending above a total 1.03 percent of the EU's Gross National Income, or 847 billion euros, which is foreseen by London in its latest proposal, he said.

The British proposal is 24 billion euros lower than the proposal tabled by the Luxembourg EU presidency in June, which EU leaders failed to agree upon, and is 178 billion euros below the amount first proposed by the European Commission.

"The new member states need to be offered significantly higher levels of investment than in the current proposals," said Barroso.

Under the British blueprint, new EU member states are set to lose 10 percent of their infrastructure and environmental spending over the seven year period, or a total of 14 billion euros.

Meanwhile, Britain offers to trim 8 billion euros from its annual rebate, increasing London's contribution in 2007-2013 from 50 billion to 58 billion euros.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Monday that the country will present a revised proposal for the bloc's 2007-2013 budget "in the middle of the week."

Speaking after chairing a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Straw said: "I told colleagues that we continued to be in listening mode."

The presidency's latest budget proposal came under widespread criticism from the rest of the EU, particularly France and the East European new member states.

Source: Xinhua


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