BRUSSELS Nov 23 European Union leaders failed
to reach agreement on a new seven-year budget for their troubled
bloc, calling off talks in less than two days after most
countries rejected deeper spending cuts demanded by Britain and
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy decided to end
a summit on the 2014-2020 EU budget, worth about 1 trillion
euros, and try again early next year rather than continue
negotiating into the weekend.
Following are comments by EU leaders and officials after
POLISH PRIME MINISTER DONALD TUSK
ON POSSIBILITY OF COMPROMISE:
"All participants in the summit agreed that the positions
(in negotiations) have moved closer to each other and there is
scope for compromise, but it will clearly require more time."
"It is better than what we had expected only 12 hours ago,
but we are certainly far away from a final agreement."
"...This afternoon I saw for the first time that the
negotiating positions of some countries are to reach a
compromise, not to drag out endlessly the talks to block them.
"For me this was a quality change. Nobody is interested in
having the talks fail, and everybody understands they will have
to move a little bit.
"The fact that cohesion policy and Common Agricultural
Policy are regarded as safe from further cuts is not something
that we can call a victory, but it is certainly a message that
is very comforting for Poland."
EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT JOSE MANUEL BARROSO
"I have to tell European governments, the European
Parliament, and European citizens that I think there's a great
interest in having a deal, because the cost of not having a
budget would be enormous. Not only for the functioning of the EU
institutions, but for the whole European economy and the
predictability of investments."
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
ON POSSIBILITY OF A DEAL:
"I see, when I look at the complete picture of possible
compromise, readiness on all sides and good possibilities to
"We must consider what it would mean if we were not to reach
agreement. This possibility is extremely unattractive."
"We have had an exchange of views and given our president,
Herman Van Rompuy, a mandate to progress on the work in order to
find a consensus in the coming weeks... for 27 member states."
"There is great potential for agreement so that we believe
that it is possible for an agreement to be reached at the start
of next year.
"We should be able to overcome our differences - that is the
view of all 27. The spirit of these talks was friendly and
constructive. We want to find an agreement of the 27. Germany is
committed to this goal."
SPANISH PRIME MINISTER MARIANO RAJOY
ON THE FAILURE TO REACH A DEAL:
"Spain comes out of this better than it went in. I leave
reasonably satisfied. I witnessed a very constructive spirit in
negotiations, which surprised me.
"But it is no surprise that we didn't reach a deal today. We
were always going to need another round to accommodate the
interests of 27, 28 countries. I think the gaps are closing and
countries are moving closer to a common position."
ON FARM SUBSIDIES:
"I discussed this with the prime ministers of Britain and
the Netherlands and they were aware that this is important for
us and for France, and they were ready to listen. So this is
about getting our friends on board."
ON THE MOOD IN THE NEGOTIATIONS:
"There were no harsh words exchanged, everything took place
in a very constructive way."
SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER FREDRIK REINFELDT
ON SPENDING CUTS:
"We have been open to go further in reductions, of course
trying to be constructive on how that can be (made) up. But now
we have no deal, so we will come back to these matters."
ON NEGOTIATIONS FOR A DEAL:
"I think it was timely to stop now because we felt there was
actually too much we hadn't gone through thoroughly enough and
we actually agreed on a text that said we should get together,
all 27, when we finalise a deal, and I think that's very
"I think we focused very much on expenditure this time, we
were not ready to run through all the revenue side, which is
very important for countries like Sweden."
FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE
ON BUDGET REDUCTIONS:
"At past budget summits we tended to see an alliance between
France, Germany and Britain to reduce the size of it. The fact
there was a change in May (with his election as president) meant
our positions were not as unanimous."
"Today the most uncompromising (countries) are talking about
30 billion euros. These are not insurmountable amounts."
ON BUDGET DEBATE:
"The EU budget has always been an ordeal."
"In the past there were always two meetings: an exploratory
one to understand countries' positions and see how we could
bring them closer and then a summit. We have not managed to get
away from that way of doing things."
"The bilateral meetings enabled President Van Rompuy to
identify the possible pathways, even if he was not able to reach
an accord. So there was a coming together."
"What Herman Van Rompuy proposed yesterday (in terms of the
overall budget) seems to us to be reasonable."
"The three words France wants to put into the debate are:
control, solidarity and growth."
ON NEGOTIATION PROCESS:
"Progress was made. There were no threats, no ultimatums."
"(German Chancellor) Angela Merkel and I both agreed that it
would be better to take some time out, because we want there to
be an agreement."
ON CHANGES TO REBATES FOR NET CONTRIBUTORS:
"France will continue to push for a change to the way these
rebates are calculated and keep asking for all countries to
contribute to their payment."
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
ON COST OF EU INSTITUTIONS:
"Brussels continues to exist as if it is in a parallel
"More than 200 Commission staff earn more than I do. Any EU
staff not from Belgium get a 16 percent expatriation allowance
on top of their generous salaries, even if they have lived in
Brussels for more than three decades.
"The EU institutions have simply got to adjust to the real
ON POSSIBILITY OF A BUDGET DEAL:
"From a budget of nearly 1 trillion euros, it is simply not
acceptable to carry on tinkering around the edges and shuffling
chunks of money from one part of the budget to another. We need
to cut unaffordable spending.
"And that is why we and others rejected the deal that was on
the table. But we still believe that a deal is absolutely
ON FREEZING EU BUDGET LEVEL:
"Freezing the budget is not an extreme position, it is
"It is possible and it would not result in my view in the
hardship of any member state.
"There is no excuse whatever for not taking a much tougher
approach towards the EU's administrative costs.
"The idea that EU institutions are unwilling to even
consider these sorts of changes is insulting to European
ON HERMAN VAN ROMPUY'S BUDGET PROPOSALS:
"We can't increase spending in the EU when we are cutting at
home. We rejected an attempt to commit British and European
taxpayers to real terms increases.
"Frankly, the deal on the table from the president of the
European Council was just not good enough. It wasn't good enough
for Britain and it wasn't good enough for a number of other
"Together we had a very clear message: we are not going to
be tough on budgets at home and then come here and sign up to
big increases in European spending."
EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY
ON POSSIBLE CUTS IN EU BUDGET:
"There were some who wanted lesser cuts and some who wanted
more, so I kept the line, not excluding that in further stages
we will have to modify the level of expenditures. But I am
proceeding in stages.
"My feeling is that we can go further... it has to be
balanced and well prepared, not in the mood of improvisation,
because we are touching upon jobs, we are touching upon
ON POSSIBILITY OF REACHING AGREEMENT:
"The bilateral talks yesterday and the constructive
discussion within the European Council show a sufficient degree
of potential convergence to make an agreement possible in the
beginning of next year. We should be able to bridge existing
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE
"Net paymasters are not ready to agree to this level of
payments, they want to cut them even more, by at least 30
"The next meeting will be in the beginning of next year
probably in January, February. The atmosphere was surprisingly
good because the divergence in opinions was so large that there
was nothing to argue about.
"It was not only Britain, all the net paymasters were not
ready to agree to this level of spending and still asking for at
least 30 billion of cuts. (EU Council President) Herman Van
Rompuy got our authorisation to prepare a new proposal for the
beginning of next year."
FOLLOWING ARE EARLIER COMMENTS BY EU LEADERS AND OFFICIALS
AHEAD OF FRIDAY'S SESSION:
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
"We had the opportunity to study the proposals of Mr Van
Rompuy last night. I believe that we won't get where we want to
be in this round either, which is a unanimous decision. We will
discuss this now.
"I have always said that it wouldn't be dramatic if today
were only the first step, we will see in the next hours. I think
the positions are still far apart and if we need a second round
we will take the time to do it."
FINNISH PRIME MINISTER JYRKI KATAINEN
ON VAN ROMPUY'S REVISED PROPOSAL:
"It's very close to what he proposed a few days ago, so the
differences weren't that big. He had reallocated some resources
but the overall level was exactly the same (as) what was in his
previous proposal. It's very difficult to say how far we can go
today, everything is open."
"I do hope that we can move on, but if that is not possible
we have to come back some other day. Everything seems to be
open. Some opinions are very far from each other and it's very
difficult to assess at the moment what will happen today."
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
"I don't think there has been enough progress so far.
"I mean there really is a problem in terms of there hasn't
been the progress in cutting back proposals for additional
"It isn't a time for tinkering, it isn't a time for moving
money from one part of the budget to another.
"We need unaffordable spending cut. That is what is
happening at home, that's what needs to happen here."
AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR WERNER FAYMANN
"The first thing is that I don't see an agreement among the
27 members. One of my main concerns is that we get anything
together at all that will last for seven years.
"In an economic crisis, that should be our first goal, that
you get a seven-year budget together if you are holding speeches
about growth every day. I think we are still some way away from
reaching that goal."