BRUSSELS Feb 7 European Union leaders begin two
days of negotiations on Thursday to try to break a deadlock over
the bloc's long-term budget.
Following are comments ahead of their talks:
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
"I can't say whether we will be successful, the positions
are still far apart. For Germany I can say that we will do
everything for such an agreement to materialise because it is
very important in a time of economic uncertainty and high
unemployment to have a plan. We have to be careful with the way
we spend but also show solidarity between net contributors and
"Whether we will have a joint vote or whether we will get
into a situation where we will have annual tranches in the
future I can't say today. It would be desirable to have a joint
result but we have to wait and work hard, and that's what I will
FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE
"France is always conscious of making savings, but at the
same time, we must not weaken the economy.
"I am here to get an agreement, provided one is possible. If
there are some who are not reasonable, then I will try to reason
with them, but up to a certain point."
GREEK PRIME MINISTER ANTONIS SAMARAS
"I believe that structural funds are a guarantee for
success, a key for success, because we need - especially in
Greece - recovery and growth.
"As you know, the necessary reforms - both structural and
fiscal consolidation - are on the way and taking place now in
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON
"Frankly, the European Union should not be immune from the
sorts of pressures that we've had to reduce spending, find
efficiencies and make sure that we spend money wisely, that we
are all having to do right across Europe. When we were last here
in November, the numbers that were put forward were much too
high. They need to come down and if they don't come down there
won't be a deal."
ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER MARIO MONTI
"We hope to find an agreement which will have to have two
fundamental features ... It must be an agreement in line with
the priorities we have set at the European Council, to signal
growth. In terms of the budget that means making an integrated
Europe with trans-border connections and other things that allow
for growth. It must also be an equal budget, which touches on
issues of transfers between countries which are very important.
Growth and equity are more than ever two crucial ingredients for
the progress of Europe. We will fight for both to materialise
and we hope that there will be an agreement."
"It remains to be seen" (whether there will be a compromise
DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE
"We have three priorities. First we believe that if in the
member states people are confronted with austerity measures, the
European Union also makes savings. It is important for us to
keep our rebate, that means that a country like the Netherlands
can explain the amounts it spends on the European Union. Thirdly
it is important for the budget to modernise, so more is spent on
things that deliver jobs, also in the Netherlands, that
agricultural funds are spent in a more modern way and that money
is spent on hard research and real innovation."
(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Robert-Jan Bartunek)