Merkel says 2013 EU budget summit may be needed

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday the European Union will need to hold a new summit on its budget in early 2013 if the bloc's leaders fail to agree this week on a 2014-2020 spending plan.

"I don't know if we will have a definitive deal tomorrow or the next day -- we want that," Merkel told lawmakers during a debate on Germany's own budget. "If necessary we will have to meet again at the beginning of next year."

The EU is locked in bitter wrangling over its contested trillion-euro budget for 2014-2020.

EU president Herman Van Rompuy said Tuesday he would draft a fresh proposal with "a revised version" of controversial cuts to be considered when leaders begin the two-day talks in Brussels late Thursday.

Austerity-driven nations led by British Prime Minister David Cameron are demanding huge cuts to EU spending to match domestic belt-tightening, but face opposition from poorer nations to the east and south that benefit from the budget.

The pre-summit negotiations have exposed stark divisions between EU nations that threaten more trauma for the bloc after three years of economic crisis.

Merkel as the leader of the EU's top economy and the biggest contributor to its budget has insisted that she will work down to the wire for a deal.

"Even if we are net contributors and people could perhaps think that we can live with a non-agreement, that is not our goal," Merkel told reporters last week after talks with visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

© 2012 AFP

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