EU struggles to reach budget agreement

By Chris Morris
BBC News, Brussels

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Flags outside the European Parliament next to a sculpture holding a euro sign
Image caption,
Some countries support an enlarged EU budget

Senior EU officials are warning that it is proving harder than ever to reach an agreement on the European Union's next multi-annual budget.

Ministers are meeting on Monday for further talks and EU leaders will hold a special summit in November to try to strike a budget deal.

The European Commission has proposed an overall budget of 1,033bn euros ($1,337bn; £824bn) for 2014-2020.

But Britain and others say it should be about 100bn euros less than that.

Every six years or so, the EU has a big political fight about the size and structure of its next multi-annual budget.

At a time of economic crisis, that looming row is once again upon us.

The Commission points out that the budget it has proposed represents only about 1% of Europe's income, and many countries are supportive.

They want to protect spending programmes from which they benefit, such as the Common Agricultural Policy or Regional Funding for poorer areas of the European Union.

But a number of influential countries argue that increased spending is not tenable and they want a real freeze in the size of the budget.

Britain's Europe Minister David Liddington said he would be making it clear that the Commission has to "get into the habit of spending better, not always looking to spend more".

As for proposals to change the nature of the UK abatement or rebate - that, he said, "simply isn't going to happen".