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EU embraces austerity for 7-year budget deal

Friday, February 08, 2013 - 02:09

08 Feb - European leaders reached agreement on the first ever cut in their common budget after 24 hours of intense negotiations, meeting the demands of northern European countries that wanted belt-tightening, while maintaining spending on farm subsidies and infrastructure to placate others. Joanna Partridge reports

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It took them 24 hours of talks - but this time they reached a deal. EU leaders have agreed on a 7-year budget worth almost 1 trillion euros. First came the framework - after all-night negotiations. Then after a short break on Friday morning, leaders returned to iron out the details. EU Council President Herman van Rompuy said it was a lengthy but successful summit. SOUNDBITE: EU COUNCIL PRESIDENT HERMAN VAN ROMPUY SAYING (English): "Not just any budget. It is a balanced and growth-oriented budget for Europe for the rest of the decade. It was no easy task. This was our single longest meeting so far in my mandate but it was worth working for this result." The bloc's agreed to spend 960 billion euros on agriculture, aid and scientific research from 2014 -2020. That's a decrease of about 3% on the last longer-term budget. It's also 12% lower than the proposal made at a failed summit back in November. Never before has the EU made a net reduction to this kind of spending plan. That's something of a victory for Britain's David Cameron and other northern European leaders. They had demanded a belt-tightening budget to reflect the cuts they're making at home. SOUNDBITE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying (German): "This agreement is important as it allows us in Europe to act and to plan important projects, for growth and employment, which will be essential over the next few years." Countries like France, Italy and Poland which wanted to secure spending on farm subsides and infrastructure were also relieved. The cuts were mostly made to transport, energy and telecoms projects - agriculture survived unscathed. The budget sounds huge, but it's only 140 billion euros a year, just 1% of the region's output. And there is still a potential problem - it must be approved by the European Parliament. And its president has said he won't accept excessive cuts.

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EU embraces austerity for 7-year budget deal

Friday, February 08, 2013 - 02:09