BRUSSELS German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she doubted that an agreement on the European Union's seven-year budget could be reached this week and that a further round of negotiations would most likely be required at a later date.
"I believe that the positions are quite far apart, in certain respects," Merkel told journalists after the conclusion of the first day of summit that will resume at midday on Friday and could run into the weekend. Germany is the biggest net contributor to EU coffers.
"I believe that we will move forward a little tomorrow but I have my doubts that we will achieve a result," said Merkel. "There is a high likelihood of a second stage."
Merkel said ahead of the summit that if it wasn't possible to strike a deal on the nearly 1 trillion euro spending framework for 2014-2020, then the next best opportunity would probably be in early 2013.
(Reporting By John O'Donnell, editing by Luke Baker)