Brussels: A European Union summit wound up yesterday with 'no agreement' sealed for the bloc's next long-term budget, officials from several EU delegations said. "There is no agreement," one official said.
With the 27 heads of state and government bitterly divided over spending policy, there had been little hope of a deal on a trillion-euro budget for 2014-20 during the two-day summit. British Prime Minister David Cameron headed a group of austerity-driven nations demanding huge cuts in the next seven-year budget to match belt-tightening measures at home. Divisions between have and have-not nations on how to spend the EU's billions caused further disagreements.
Talks to settle the bitter disputes that surfaced at the two-day summit will resume in January, Belgium's foreign minister Didier Reynders said on his Twitter account. An EU diplomat said the main obstacle at the summit was Cameron's demand for reductions in the planned adding that 'the most virulent' countries by his side were Sweden and the Netherlands. Cameron had vowed to bring down the budget from a proposed €1.047 trillion ($1.347 trillion) to €886 billion.
Public spending cuts
Britain, like many countries across Europe, is responding to economic crisis with major public spending cuts and Cameron argues that at a time of austerity at home the European Union must also make deep cuts.
His bleak assessment of the state of the budget talks was shared by other EU leaders, who arrived one by one at European Council building in Brussels for bilateral meetings before the summit proper resumed at midday.
"I believe that also in this round, we won't be where have to get to, which is a unanimous decision," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, repeating a line she had taken even before arriving in the Belgian capital.
"If we need a second round, then we will take the time necessary for it," se added, referring to the prospect of a second summit in the coming months to nail down a deal.
Nearly a year after he angered his European counterparts by vetoing a pact to resolve the eurozone crisis, Cameron was again at odds with them by demanding cuts to the perks enjoyed by so-called "eurocrats" the well-paid EU civil servants who are frequently targeted by the British press.