EU budget talks end in failure


Talks on the European Union's 2013 budget collapsed in acrimony last night, denting hopes of a swift deal later this month on the bigger issue of the bloc's long-term spending for 2014-2020.

Negotiators for EU governments and the European Parliament walked out without even discussing next year's spending blueprint, after 8 hours spent squabbling over a request for 9 billion euros in extra cash to fill a funding gap in 2012.

"Under these conditions, we felt that negotiations which hadn't really begun by six o'clock in the evening couldn't reasonably be expected to finish during the night," said the parliament's lead negotiator, French politician Alain Lamassoure.

Sources in the meeting said the talks ultimately failed because politicians from the European Parliament refused to discuss the 2013 budget before an agreement on the extra funds for 2012, while governments wanted to negotiate both as a package.

Asked whether the parliament took the decision to walk out of the talks, Lamassoure said: "I would say rather that it was the ministers who didn't walk in."

Before yesterday's talks, negotiators warned that failure could affect the outcome of an EU summit on November 22-23, where leaders will try to agree plans for the bloc's next long-term budget worth roughly 1 trillion euros ($1.27 trillion).

"If we succeed in these negotiations now, we will create a better atmosphere for convergence and agreement in the (summit) negotiations," said Cyprus's deputy minister for EU affairs, Andreas Mavroyiannis.

"If not, I suppose this will poison a little bit the atmosphere," he told Reuters ahead of the meeting.

The failure will also delay about 670 million euros of EU aid funding to the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, which was hit by a series of powerful earthquakes earlier this year, but negotiators said there was agreement that the funds should be paid.

A fresh round of talks is expected ahead of a November 13 deadline for a deal. If the deadline is missed, the European Commission will have to draft a new budget plan in a Last-ditch bid to get an agreement before the end of the year.