BRUSSELS, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Top leaders of the European Union (EU) on Friday agreed on the bloc's seven-year financial framework that includes tens of billions of euros in budget cuts compared to the last period.
From 2014-2020, the maximum amount of member state commitments has been set at 960 billion euros (1.3 trillion U.S. dollars), or a three-percent decrease from the last seven-year framework, according to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
In addition, actual payments have been sharply reduced by 34 billion euros to 908 billion euros for the rest of the decade for the 27-member bloc.
The so-called multiannual financial framework (MFF), which settles the ceiling and the structure of the EU spending over a seven-year period, shapes the EU's mid-term policy priorities while annual budget requires separate negotiations.
Amid the ongoing economic and debt crisis across Europe, the deal will be the first ever cut in the EU budget since its existence, provided that it can be approved by the European Parliament as required by EU law.
"This budget is future-oriented, realistic and driven by pressing concerns," Van Rompuy said here at a press conference in the end of a two-day special summit, urging the Parliament to agree on the deal.
"This was our single longest meeting so far in my mandate, but it was worth working for the result," Van Rompuy said, referring to the hard bargaining that started on Thursday afternoon and lasted for 24 hours in Brussels due to conflicts of national interest among leaders.
"It is a balanced and growth-oriented budget for Europe. We cannot sacrifice investment in innovation, education and research," the president added.
Despite the large budget cuts, there will be a net increase in programs such as "Erasmus for All" and "Horizon 2020" innovation. The deal also includes a 6-billion-euro initiative focused on youth employment, according to the president.
During the budget talks, EU leaders agreed on increasing efficiency and reducing cost of EU administration itself, as well as collecting more revenue via a new VAT system, future financial transaction tax, lower collection costs on duties and levies, etc.
It would be a budget of moderation, and with strategy and philosophy, Van Rompuy insisted.
"The levels agreed today are below what the Commission considers desirable... But the deal can still be an important catalyst for growth and jobs," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the same press conference.
This week's summit was the second time for EU leaders to concentrate on budget talks. The first budget summit last November had achieved little, except for Van Rompuy's proposal of an 80-billion-euro cut from the Commission's original expectation of a 1-trillion-euro spending program.
Following the end of the summit, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a Twitter posting that the Parliament would start its assessment. "The European Council has recognized the role of the Parliament and made an offer to be negotiated," he said.
The Parliament's approval is preferred by early this year, in order to leave time for the adoption of relevant legislation so that the new framework can enter into force in 2014.
STOCKHOLM, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- The newly reached agreement on the Europe Union's (EU) new 2014-2020 multi-annual budget means that Sweden has managed to keep its yearly contribution below the level the European Commission had suggested, Swedish EU Minister Birgitta Ohlsson said Friday.
Sweden had maintained its yearly contribution to the EU at around 32 billion Swedish kronor (about 5 billion U.S. dollars), less than the 40 billion Swedish kronor suggested by the European Commission, said Ohlsson who described the development as a "victory." Full story
BRUSSELS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Thursday warned against an EU with a deficit as the Union's top leaders are locked in sensitive negotiations over the 27-member bloc's 2014-2020 budget scheme.
The seven-year budget could be set at roughly 960 billion euros (1.3 billion U.S. dollars), while actual payments would fall short by around 50 billion euros to accommodate the Britain's scream for spending cuts, Schulz said in a press conference here on Thursday night. Full story