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Main focus of Thursday, February 7, 2013

Next round in row over EU budget

Around a trillion euros are under discussion at the negotations. (© dapd)

The EU heads of state and government will resume the negotiations on the joint budget 2014-2020 this Thursday. They need to reach a consensus at the summit on both the total amount and how the money is to be distributed. In view of widely diverging interests, a compromise is once again unlikely, commentators fear, calling for greater solidarity among the member states.

Novinar - Bulgaria

The idea of Europe no longer a uniting force

The EU heads of state and government were unable to reach an agreement on the next budget at the summit meeting in November. The daily Novinar sees no reason why it should work out now: "When you think about how entrenched the positions are on the eve of the summit, it's clear that participants will once again be fighting for their own interests. The idea of a united Europe as a driving force in the negotiations is increasingly being put on the back burner. And as the member states go at each other's throats over bagatelles, the EU is already being overtaken by other regions that were considered economically weak only a few years ago. What the tug of war in Brussels will lead to remains to be seen: the rope breaking, the small and weak members just throwing in the towel or a new formula emerging that will bring the EU forward in the next seven years." (06/02/2013)

Handelsblatt - Germany

High agricultural subsidies unjustified

Once again it will it be extraordinarily difficult to reach a compromise on the next EU budget, the liberal business paper Handelsblatt writes with an eye to the summit of EU heads of state and government: "There is little chance that the answer will please everyone. As things stand now, it looks like the heads of state and government will miss yet another chance to pass a truly sustainable EU budget. The extraordinarily high agricultural subsidies cannot be justified in a regulative way. And the 27 member states will be just as unwilling to go along with the Commission's plans for increasing the budget for innovation and research as with the ambitious financing of cross-border traffic, energy and communication networks. This is counterproductive and behind the times - but apparently it is the only way a compromise among the EU member states can be reached." (07/02/2013)

Le Monde - France

Failed budget would be an opportunity

The EU must stop its incessant budget disputes and finally put together a sustainable budget, the liberal daily Le Monde demands: "These negotiations are unworthy of Europe. It is time to develop a budget that lays the foundation for the future, one that displays true federal solidarity with the regions that are plagued with mass unemployment. When they received François Hollande in Strasbourg, the EU parliamentarians warned that they would reject this budget as it stands. And they're right. The EU would still be in a position to make disbursements, as its budget would be passed on a yearly basis. The Europeans must use the 2014 elections to present their ambitions for a joint budget. Only in this way will the new parliament and the new Commission finally have a mandate to prepare the future." (06/02/2013)

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