Commission president criticises EU leaders over budget talks

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European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has accused EU heads of government of "only thinking about the national interest", ahead of a summit on the EU's long-term budget.

In a debate with MEPs on 6 February 2013, he said the summit - which takes place in Brussels on 7 and 8 February - was a "very important moment for Europe".

EU leaders failed to a agree a compromise on the so-called Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) at a previous specially convened summit in November.

The European Commission has put forward a draft budget of €1.025tn for the period 2014-2020, a 4.8% increase on the current MFF.

Mr Barroso insisted the MFF made up only 1% of EU GDP but that it was "the most important instrument at EU level for investment".

But the leader of the Conservative group, Martin Callanan MEP accused the EU of wanting to continue funding schemes that "belong in a previous century", arguing for a "better not a bigger budget".

His socialist counterpart, Austrian MEP Hannes Swoboda launched into an attack on David Cameron for wanting to freeze the budget and concentrate on the single market.

"It's not a big budget, don't exaggerate, don't scandalise," he warned, calling for an end to the "shameful" game of countries competing to be the toughest on the budget.

If no agreement is reached by the end of 2013, the current budget ceilings will be rolled over into 2014 with a 2% inflation adjustment.

Many MEPs used the debate to repeat their calls for the EU to introduce a system of own resources to fund the budget, such as a financial transaction tax, instead of relying on contributions from national budgets.

The European Council summit will also focus on the EU's role in the situation in Mali, and ongoing global trade negotiations.

Useful links.

Read Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work here.

The European Parliament's disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations can be found here.

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