The battle in Brussels

Leaders posing in Brussels

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Europe's leaders predicted a bitter battle over the budget. And they were right.

They drifted away into the night in pessimistic mood.

"I think we're advancing a bit," said the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, "but I doubt that we will reach a deal."

Others suggested that a deal was not possible this time and that they would have to return in January and February.

The leaders will have the morning to mull over the latest budget proposal, hastily put together after nearly 12 hours of meetings.

During the day each of the 27 heads of government had been able to put their case to Europe's two most senior officials.

Start Quote

I don't see how a bridge can be built between all these different interests”

End Quote Martin Schulz President of European Parliament

Someone described it as a "parade of differences".

In the latest proposal, the spending ceiling remains pretty much the same at 940bn euros (£759bn; $1.2tn).

Some money has been shifted to help the poorer regions and some more has been earmarked for farm subsidies. That provoked one official to call it "a step backwards".

Coming from a northern European country, he said the budget needed to reflect a more "modern agenda".

The French President Francois Hollande is on the defensive but battling to protect the Common Agricultural Policy.


"It allows us to feed our people, to have food security, to have top quality food, to export food," he said.

"I am not just defending France - I am also showing solidarity with people throughout Europe, this is a European policy."

This revised proposal was an attempt to balance all the competing interests. The fault lines have become clearer. Most of those countries which do well out of EU grants have banded together to oppose any cuts.

The French, Italians and Spanish are fighting fiercely to protect their farmers.

On Thursday, David Cameron had been first in to see Europe's two top officials. They had been surprised when he told them how they could save several billion euros by attacking perks and salaries.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron (L) and Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi the EU Headquarters on November. The British are being accused of intransigence

One official later described it as "theatre for the British morning papers". In the revised proposal there were no changes to administrative costs. Another pointed out that the pay rise for civil servants in the UK had gone up 0.9% in 2012 and that David Cameron was demanding a 10% cut for the so-called eurocrats.

Britain, in seeking a freeze on actual spending, has allies in Sweden and the Netherlands.

The interesting position is that of the Germans. Angela Merkel, as always, disguises her negotiating hand until the very last. Her view is that the "positions are quite far apart".

Her bottom line is that "everybody is going to have to compromise and be ready to compromise". That was seen as sending a message to the British.

Already there is some muttering about "British intransigence". David Cameron has made it clear there is no question of a cut to the rebate worth around £3bn a year.

A deal is still possible when the leaders reconvene later, but the mood was perhaps best summed up by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

"I don't see," he said, "how a bridge can be built between all these different interests."

Gavin Hewitt Article written by Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

UK caught up in new EU budget row

UK politicians react angrily to news that a £1.7bn (€2.1bn) surcharge will have to be paid to the EU by 1 December, while France and Germany get a rebate.

Read full article

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  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    314. margaret howard It is difficult to recognize those with a vested interest in leaving the EU or curtailment of it (not many opportunities) but easy to see those that have a vested interest, more so those with their noses in the trough (many opportunities). Given your frequent defence of an EU with a serious democratic deficit and a lack of accounting, we can only guess at your your motives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    The dishonest mood of denial, allied with the concupiscence of the oppressor ( Auden ? )

    Its the force in social theory that propels the degredation of people into this case immigrants..

    Two faced, it also has the quality of transforming the oppressor into a thing s`well..

    The EU has always faced the challenge of allowing for national identities, alongside mutual benefit..

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    332 kane..

    At its best the Bible would say treat other people how you would like to be treated yourself.

    Credible arguement ? Jeeez !

    Links to the tabloid press caricutures, that are propogated by organisations that have a transparent idoelogy..Sun ran a concerted campaign against Gypsies , some vermin apparently, alongside women, refugees, non-white

    How does the Polski Sun grab you ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    kane @332
    "to concede", or veto?

    With "some grace"?
    Owed not just to 'an argument'
    IF to "your position"
    Then to your self?

    To "concede" without grace
    Forgetting even 'the issue'?

    Instructive, thank you
    But hardly 'a credit'
    Do you realise?
    Blog version of street acquaintances from Elsewhere

    ComradeOgilvy @333
    Here in hope
    For many others
    World & Future

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.


    For you? Why do you think that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.


    When making provision for occasional psychopaths/sociopaths in social theory, it is important to be aware that on occasion you may be addressing one.

    Good will and trust are absolutely paramount but contingencies must be addressed. I hope you appreciate that my own clear frustrations do not change my principles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    "You still haven`t provided an arguement to support yer assertion.."
    From the bible no less

    "How foolish!"
    Would you kindly address post, that which is intended for me, to me?

    331.All for All
    "or to concede"
    Would that get rid of you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    kane @319
    EU "posturing"?

    Whether representing just yourself, or under commission, you owe it to your position to advance, to defend, or to concede with some grace: not "mumbo jumbo"

    Generalisation from even 'acute experience', use of statistics transparently without insight as to validity or relevance, & inability if not refusal to learn, all worthy of attention, if at all interested

    Your move

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    "Standing on the shoulders of giants"

    How foolish!

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.


    You`ve an interesting personality, you use deflection to avoid answering questions..

    The quintessenstial xenophobe with aspects of the personality that wants clear hierarchical boundaries, founded on fear....which manifests itself as prejudice..

    You still haven`t provided an arguement to support yer assertion..

    Q...are you able to live within social norms ..?

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    "Maturity is often more absurd than youth and very frequently is most unjust to youth."

    Congratulations, not a single word from your own brain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    Maturity is often more absurd than youth and very frequently is most unjust to youth.


  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    "Nothing quite like grammar to win an argument."
    It does happen and as you get older so too you will indulge.

    "Some might consider that an effort to divert attention from the ideological failings."
    Then some wouldn't de facto.

    "You succeed only in argueing in favour of your own limitations..."
    Even when you find you're incorrect you dig your heals in and refuse to learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.


    You succeed only in argueing in favour of your own limitations...

    You made the assertion, the burden of proof lies with you....does it not...

    SO !!,,All Albanians and Romainians are worthless because ...?

    Yep...I make lots of typo` doesn`t invalidate my arguements or my credibility..

    Anyways..over to burden of proof consists of..

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    Nothing quite like grammar to win an argument. Some might consider that an effort to divert attention from the ideological failings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    You prove there value to me you young whippersnapper. That should prove impossible.

    "You`ll sruggle for a philosophical or economic arguement..."
    Do you mean 'struggle' and 'argument'? Not much point in you getting all highbrow if you can't even spell correctly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    #319 kane

    Mind your spelling !

    #299 "Says he who posts photos of Merkel with budgies"

    --I thought you would like her admirers -- sitting on her shoulder and eating out of her hand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.


    Still waiting for a reasoned credible arguement, that supports your assertion that Albanians and Romanians are worthless ..

    You`ll sruggle for a philosophical or economic arguement...

    Which leaves us with your ideology, which will never see reason, just emotion and faux nostalgia..

    Surprise me...join up sentences and present an arguement that earns respect..

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    307 Lucy J...

    I ain`t got time to hunt down what you`re upset about...

    Illegal immigrants are a different matter than what we`re talking about..

    The EU is a Union of countries that allows free movement of people thru each of its member countries borders...alongside goods and services..

    Illegal immigants should abide by host nations laws, I agree

    317 Kane

    Nope, I like nothing

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    All for All
    "Again, are you a distracter, or just helplessly distracted?"
    You've been tolerated sufficiently. This is a political blog and all you serve is mumbo jumbo.
    If I didn't know better I'd suggest you're oaktre in disguise.


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