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Deal on long-term budget looks likely

By Toby Vogel  -  07.02.2013 / 06:03 CET
Van Rompuy confident a deal can be struck but clashes are expected over rebate negotiations.
 

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There are several areas where EU leaders could play with the figures to sell a deal to their electorates. While actual negotiations so far have been about overall ceilings for commitments to pay (which Van Rompuy capped at €973bn in November), some leaders worry more about ceilings for actual payments. Cameron, for example, wants to limit spending to €900bn ­– in payments.

Another fuzzy area covers the various EU programmes that are not formally part of the multi-annual budget, notably much of the Union's development spending. Such off-budget items give the leaders another substantial chunk of money to sweeten a deal, for example €27bn, in Van Rompuy's proposal, for development aid. Including or taking out such programmes from the overall figure could allow many national leaders to claim victory.

The leaders' negotiations are based on constant 2011 prices. But under the EU's budget, these figures are automatically adjusted by +2% for inflation every year. Cameron's €900bn limit would, over the 2014-20 period, in fact rise above €1 trillion.

Several leaders as well as MEPs have been demanding greater flexibility to use unspent funds for purposes other than those for which they were initially earmarked.

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