Viewpoints: The right budget for Europe?

The European Parliament has approved the EU's seven-year budget for 2014-2020 - despite having earlier opposed a 3.5% cut in EU spending.

The budget got a big majority in the parliament, ending months of hard bargaining with the 28 member states' governments.

Known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), it sets EU spending at 960bn euros (£805bn; $1.3tn) and, as previously, regional aid and farm subsidies account for about two-thirds of the budget.

BBC News asked several MEPs for their opinions on the budget after the vote in Strasbourg.

Jean-Luc Dehaene, chief budget negotiator (Belgium - centre-right)

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Media captionJean-Luc Dehaene says MEPs have made EU spending more flexible

The parliament's chief negotiator (rapporteur), Jean-Luc Dehaene of the European People's Party, said MEPs were unable to reverse the governments' decision to cut the budget for the first time.

But he welcomed the fact that the new budget would be more flexible, in that funds may be switched from one spending category to another if necessary.

And he stressed that unspent EU funds would be kept for future spending - not simply handed back to national governments as in the past.

Rebecca Harms, Greens (Germany)

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Media captionMs Harms said Europe's serious debt problems would not be eased by the 2014-2020 budget

A leading MEP in the Greens bloc, Rebecca Harms said she was "very disappointed" with the budget plans, which in her view fail to put Europe on the path to sustainable development.

The Greens want a more fundamental shift in Europe to tackle economic imbalances, embrace renewable energy and alleviate poverty.

They call for more EU solidarity, instead of austerity.

Ivailo Kalfin, Socialists and Democrats (Bulgaria - centre-left)

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Media captionIvailo Kalfin said the package would address some of Europe's "burning problems"

The budget is "a very good compromise", according to Ivailo Kalfin, a budget specialist from Bulgaria, which is the poorest EU member state.

It will target some of Europe's "burning problems" such as youth unemployment, he said.

He also highlighted the fact that there will be a budget review in 2016, to check whether EU money is being spent efficiently.

Morten Messerschmidt, Danish People's Party (Eurosceptic)

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Media captionMorten Messerschmidt MEP says some EU budget spending is "damaging"

The budget will be as wasteful as previous ones, the Eurosceptic Danish MEP Morten Messerschmidt told the BBC. He sits with a right-wing Eurosceptic bloc called Europe of Freedom and Democracy.

He argues that the EU should pay more attention to European auditors' criticisms of EU spending.

He says the biggest spending areas - agriculture and regional aid projects - are not delivering value for money, because too much is misspent.

Jan Mulder, ALDE group (Netherlands - liberal)

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Media captionJan Mulder MEP praised the new EU budget's "flexibility"

Like some of his fellow MEPs, Jan Mulder singled out the new flexibility in budget allocations as an improvement.

He also said the EU's decision to cut the budget was a "good example" for European governments, many of which are struggling to reduce their debt burdens.

The liberals are strong advocates of the EU single market, but want to see more barriers to competition removed.

Interviews by Piers Scholfield and Chris Morris in Strasbourg, compiled by Laurence Peter.

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