European Union budget talks collapse

LONDON — After two days of divisive talks, leaders from 27 European Union nations Friday failed to reach an agreement on their trillion-dollar budget.

The leaders met in Brussels to try to hammer out a strategic seven-year budget that aims, among other things, to spur economic activity in Europe’s poorer regions.

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The summit collapsed in failure following unresolved tensions in the bloc, largely between richer countries that are net contributors to the E.U. budget and poorer ones that receive more cash than they pitch in. Unanimity is required for approval.

The E.U. Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, originally proposed a $1.3 trillion budget for 2014-2020 period, nearly a 5 percent increase compared with the 2007-2013 budget.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was the most prominent leader to argue for a smaller budget, saying that a rise was unacceptable at a time when countries were rolling out austerity cuts back home.

Although there is no deadline for reaching an agreement, the leaders will attempt to pick up the pieces next year. If no deal is reached by the end of 2013, the budget will automatically increase by the rate of inflation.

Speaking to reporters after the talks collapsed, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy tried to strike an upbeat note, saying there was “a sufficient degree of potential convergence to make an agreement possible in the beginning of next year.”

 
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