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Setback for EU as tentative deal on budget rejected
Aggregated Source: Shanghai Daily: Business

IN a setback to the European Union, the major parties in its parliament yesterday rejected a tentative deal on a seven-year 960-billion-euro (US$1.27 trillion) budget that is supposed to kick in next year.

Yesterday's move extended the problems for the 27 EU nations that have been trying since last fall to cobble together a budget for the years 2014-2020 at a time when many are mired in recession as they grapple with their debts. At the same time, a reinvigorated legislature has been clamoring for more clout in the way the EU is run.

The Christian Democrats, Socialists and Liberals all said the conditions laid down in a provisional agreement reached on Wednesday could not get their full backing. The Parliament's budget rapporteur, Reimer Boege, even resigned from his post, saying the financial elements of the deal on the table were "nothing more than a manipulation."

Socialist leader Hannes Swoboda said his party "will not take a rushed decision."

Time is pressing though for a deal that would represent the first cut in spending in the EU's history, to the dismay of many parliamentarians. The budget sets what the EU can spend on everything from infrastructure, farming to development aid.

The legislature needs to back February's agreement by EU leaders and has asked for more money and more say in the way the budget will be run. The main parties also want a midway review to assess the changing conditions. If the deal lasts through to 2020, then any parliamentarian elected next year could see his five-year term go without having a say on the budget. A failure to agree a budget could make long-term planning difficult.

"How can we claim to put the next Parliament and the next commission in a seven-year fiscal straitjacket that starts before their appointment and ends after the end of their term? We demand a real revision," said the Liberal ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt.

The discussions over the budget have lasted for months.

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Copyright Shanghai Daily: Business