Zapatero in talks with Schroeder over EU budget

8th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

8 November 2004, LEON- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero held a summit to iron-out differences over the EU budget.

8 November 2004

LEON- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero held a summit to iron-out differences over the EU budget.

Germany is the biggest contributor to the overall EU budget whereas Spain, since it joined the EU in 1986 has been the chief recipient of structural and development funds -- currently worth some EUR six billion (USD 7 bn) annually.

The enlargement of the EU to 25 countries will mean a thinner geographic spread of regional aid funds while belt-tightening is very much on Schroeder's agenda as Germany battles to make deep spending cuts and slim down a bloated welfare system to revive its sagging economy.

Laying down the terms of the EU budget for 2007-2013 was a key issue at
Monday's summit talks.

Germany wants the EU Commission to limit spending in the upcoming budget to one percent of the bloc's gross domestic product, whereas the Commission is proposing an increase to 1.14 percent to counter extra spending on major supranational issues such as anti-terrorist cooperation.

In a weekend interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, Zapatero praised Germany's role in building post-war economic stability in Europe, insisting that "we must all contribute to ensure that Germany again becomes Europe's locomotive."

The Spanish leader also recognised that in the newly-expanded EU, "there
are others who are less rich than ourselves."

"Thanks to German money, which has helped us for years, my daughters are growing up in better conditions than I or my father did," the Spanish leader added.

On the issue of securing agreement on the EU budget, Zapatero told Der
Spiegel: "I am sure we can reach an agreement on a new financial framework."

The pair also discussed European integration and rebuilding transatlantic relations, which suffered after European hostility to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Spain and Germany have agreed to boost cooperation in defence.

Spanish Defence Minister Jose Bono and German counterpart Peter Struck said in a joint statement that Berlin would extend the loan of 108 combat tanks to 2016 in order to "intensify existing cooperation between both countries in the field of conventional defence technology".

Spain, which is modernising its armed forces, is seeking for its part to help equip the German navy as both countries bolster defence cooperation.

Monday's accord builds on a 1995 agreement to push defence cooperation by
initially loaning the tanks to Spain.

As part of its military overhaul Spain "wishes to increase cooperation with Germany via future acquisition programmes" in several fields, including the Eurofighter jet aircraft programme, naval communications and missiles for Tiger helicopters.

The joint statement said Monday's accord would likely be signed in late
January next year. 

Struck accompanied Schroeder to the talks with his colleagues from the foreign, justice and agriculture ministries as both countries held annual bilateral consultations introduced in 1983.

Prior to arriving at the summit, Schroeder, who has developed a close relationship with fellow leftwinger Zapatero, said both men backed "advances in European security and defence policy" through greater integration at EU level.

Schroeder, who claims close personal relations with fellow left-wing leader Zapatero, arrived at midday at the head of a sizeable German ministerial delegation for the 19th annual meeting of the countries' leaders.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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