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EU braced for budget battle royale

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 02:16

Nov.21 - European Council staff protested against budget cuts, as EU leaders are preparing for tough talks on the bloc's 1 trillion euro budget from 2014-2020,as the member states can't agree on a spending plan. Britain says austerity across the region means the EU should freeze spending, but could end up being left out in the cold. Joanna Partridge reports

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Protests against cuts are a common sight in Europe these days. But this time the demonstrators were European Commission staff. They spent their lunchbreak protesting that cuts to the EU budget could mean them losing their jobs. SOUNDBITE: Ignazio Iacono, Political Secretary of the Union Syndicale, saying (English): "We are striking just to keep, to protect the budget of the European institutions for the European citizens because the projects are focused on the European citizens. If we cut, we cut to them also." The protest took place ahead of crucial talks between EU leaders on the bloc's budget from 2014-2020, It's worth 1 trillion euros and all 27 member states need to agree. At the moment that looks a long way off. European Council President Herman van Rompuy has proposed an 80 billion euros reduction in the spending plan. But Germany, Sweden and Britain want at least 200 billion euros shaved off. British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened to use his veto, unless he gets a freeze in real terms in EU spending. SOUNDBITE: David Cameron, British Prime Minister, saying (English): "I've cut some central budgets by 30%, I've had to cut things like the police budget by 20%. It's simply not credible to go to Europe, and say well we've made all these difficult decisions at home, but when it comes to the European budget we are going to see it go up and up and up." In the opposite corner is Italy which has threatened to use its veto if the budget is cut. And the disagreements don't end there - France and Latvia are concerned about agricultural subsidies. It's going to be hard for the EU to please all members says Jane Foley from Rabobank. SOUNDBITE: Jane Foley, Senior Currency Strategist, Rabobank, saying (English): "Each of the governments within the EU have to answer to their own electorate and therefore they have to explain to the electorate why they are cutting spending at home but potentially allowing more funding to go overseas." German Chancellor Angela Merkel expects the talks to be tough. She told parliament the leaders may need to meet again early next year to resolve the budget. Some analysts have suggested that 26 EU members might go ahead without Britain - leaving London isolated. And that would give many in the UK cause to consider Britain's place in Europe.

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EU braced for budget battle royale

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 02:16

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