EU powers go to battle with Brussels over budget
A band of EU powers including Britain, France and Germany plan to do battle with Brussels over its next budget Monday, saying "we need to spend better, not spend more," diplomats said.
Europe ministers from nine nations are expected to sign on to a position paper slamming European Commission plans for a 2014-2020 budget seen as bloated in times of economic austerity, the sources said Saturday.
A draft of the document obtained by AFP says "the Commission proposal is too high. The increases of spending over the next multi-annual financial framework are significantly in excess of what is needed for a stabilisation of the European budget."
"Member states are making considerable financial efforts to support Europe and at the same time are undertaking tough consolidation efforts," it adds.
"European public spending cannot be exempt from these considerable national efforts."
Involved are countries which are net contributors to the European Union budget -- also including Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden, which is hosting a ministers' meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss the issue.
"Total spending for the 2014-2020 period needs to be substantially lower," the draft document states. "We need to make the best use of the European budget to create better conditions for growth and make Europe more competitive. We need to spend better, not to spend more."
The Commission -- the EU's executive body -- unveiled a draft budget for 2014-2020 in June that drew a hail of fire for planning a five-percent rise from the previous seven-year cycle, increasing spending to 1,083 billion euros ($1,552 billion), or 1.11 percent of EU GDP.
Brussels had proposed capping EU spending for 2014 to 2020 at 1.05 percent of GDP, equivalent to 1.025 billion euros ($1.5 billion) a year, but adding 58.3 million euros for financial crisis funds and space and nuclear projects.
The 2014-2020 budget is on the agenda of talks between Europe ministers on Monday though only at the beginning of a gruelling process that will run into 2012.
© 2011 AFP