World

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Angela Merkel issues veiled threat to Britain and France over EU budget deal veto

Stephen Brown

Published 01/11/2012|17:46

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GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a veiled reprimand on Thursday to Britain and France for threatening to veto a deal on the European Union's long-term budget, saying such talk did not help the tense negotiations.

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Merkel said it was normal in politics to "stake out terrain" ahead of a summit such as the November 22-23 meeting of EU leaders to discuss the bloc's €1 trillion euro spending plan.

But a day after British premier David Cameron came under pressure in parliament to act tough on the EU budget and France waved its veto threateningly, Merkel said: "I don't want to throw more vetoes into the room, it doesn't help bring about a solution."

Proposals to reduce the 2014-2020 budget have disappointed some richer member states which want to cut their contributions even further as they struggle to reduce their debts. But they have angered eastern newcomers such as Poland which rely heavily on EU funding for economic development.

Merkel visits British Prime Minister David Cameron next week after his humiliating defeat in parliament on Wednesday at the hands of Eurosceptic rebels in his Conservative party, who are not satisfied with his push for a freeze in spending.

Paris has now also threatened to block a deal - in anger at proposals to trim farm subsidies - as has Denmark, which wants a rebate on its contributions similar to those negotiated by first Britain then Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria.

Merkel was speaking at a news conference with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who takes over budget mediation in January as the next holder of the rotating EU presidency. Cyprus, the current president, has proposed a compromise involving budget cuts of more than €50bn.

"Next week I will have an opportunity to discuss the issue directly with David Cameron," said Merkel. "Germany will try its utmost to bring about a solution just as Ireland will, and then we have to see how matters develop."

Kenny said his strategy on the EU budget would be "to see what the lie of the land is and make decisions accordingly".

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