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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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Taoiseach and EU leaders gathering for budget summit

EU leaders are to spend the day and probably tomorrow discussing their budget for the next seven years.

As European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso manages the budget while leaders like Enda Kenny determine how much that budget is.
As European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso manages the budget while leaders like Enda Kenny determine how much that budget is.
Image: Yves Logghe/AP/Press Association Images

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY is in Brussels today as EU leaders begin talks about their budget for the next seven years amid calls for a cut in spending.

Kenny said yesterday that the summit will have “significant implications for the Union over the coming years”.

The draft version of what is known as the 2014-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) has been drawn up by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy with some €973 billion at stake.

The discussions come amid tensions between the various 27 members with countries who rely heavily on EU funding such as those in Eastern Europe looking for current spending levels to be maintained or even raised.

In the area of cohesion spending – which accounts for 32 per cent of spending – countries like Poland want to maintain funding for infrastructure.

By contrast Britain wants cuts to the budget or at the very least to ensure that spending does not rise amid pressure from government backbenchers in Westminster.

Prime Minister David Cameron has warned he may use his veto if the calls for a rise in EU spending are heeded to.

As discussions get under way one other sticking point could be the area of agriculture which accounts for 37.5 per cent or €364.5 billion of the EU budget.

Both France and Ireland want to sustain current spending and object to proposed cuts.

Kenny told the Dáil yesterday: “The Union’s budget needs a CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) allocation that will support a vigorous, consumer-focused agricultural production base in Europe.”

Negotiations are likely to spill into Friday and German chancellor Angela Merkel has said that another summit may be needed if no deal can be reached now.

The EU budget accounts for less than two percent of all public spending in the European Union.

Read: ECB chief backs plans for EU to get veto on national budgets

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Hugh O'Connell

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