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EU budget summit ends without agreement

The European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
The European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

A marathon EU summit called to set the bloc's budget for the next seven years ended in deadlock late on Friday after the 27 member countries failed to find common ground.


The Brussels summit ground to a halt after two days and a night of talks that failed to narrow differences between a handful of wealthy "frugal" states and a larger group demanding more money to meet big European ambitions, as well as covering the budget shortfall left by Brexit.

It is estimated that the departure of the United Kingdom from the trading bloc will cost the EU 75 billion euros over the next seven years.

Speaking after the closure of the failed smmit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lamented the fact that "difference between the member states remain too great at this time.

"We'll have to attack this question at a later date," added the German leader, without specifying when the next budget meeting might take place. "That's up to the president of the EU Council to decide," said Merkel.

More time needed to reach common ground on seven-year plan

Charles Michel, the Belgian president of the council, echoed Merkel's disappointment. "We need more time," he said in the wake of the marathon meeting.

Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Holland have formed a "frugal foursome" at the talks, insisting that the budget will have to represent less than 1 percent of total European Union income.

Countries benefitting from EU subventions have been clamouring for the higher figure of 1.074 percent of continental income, a figure which amounts to 1,094 billion euros. The Hungarian leader Viktor Orban insisted that 1.3 percent was a more reasonable proposal. He was supported by his Estonian counterpart, Jüri Ratas.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the disagreement was a sign of EU "democracy".

"It's worth it to work hard to move forward," she said.

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