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Merkel: ‘Difficult’ problems before EU budget summit

German chancellor talks about next week’s event to thrash out bloc’s seven-year budget

Gulf News

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday there were “difficult” issues to resolve ahead of an EU summit next week to thrash out the bloc’s seven-year budget.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, Merkel told reporters: “We have pushed forward a lot for Europe in recent months.”

“It is no secret that Mario Monti has pushed hard for Italian interests and that therefore sometimes there are difficult problems that we have to solve.

“But I am optimistic that when it comes to the medium-term financial planning, it’s about being successful and finding a solution,” she added.

EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a second attempt at finding a deal on the 27-nation bloc’s seven-year, trillion-euro budget after failing to clinch agreement at a summit in November.

After the talks — that one former European premier described as “like a Turkish bazaar” — British Prime Minister UK veto

David Cameron was cast as the chief spoiler, threatening to wave his veto unless spending was cut in real terms.

The last time the EU had to agree on seven-year budget negotiations was in 2005, when it took six months and a failed summit during which Britain actually did deploy its veto.

The final offer on the table from EU President Herman Van Rompuy was to bring the budget to €972 billion (Dh4.6 trillion, $1.3 trillion), or just over one per cent of the total economic output of the union.

Monti said he was looking forward to seeing new proposals from Van Rompuy and said it was important for Italy that the budget be used to promote the EU’s “ambitious goals” of growth and solidarity.

The talks between Monti and Merkel kicked off a frantic round of shuttle diplomacy among the EU’s top leaders ahead of the summit.

Merkel is meeting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday and French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday. Monti announced he was meeting Hollande on Saturday for talks on the budget.

“These are all very multi-layered and complex topics,” Monti acknowledged.