The Budget in summary
After more than 24 hours of frantic negotiations, on 8 February EU leaders finally agreed the terms of a new long-term budget for the European Union, despite what seemed to be irreconcilable differences between the UK and France.
Although Council insiders close to the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, talked up the prospects of a deal in the run up to this week’s Summit, it soon became clear that the respective positions of French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron had in fact hardened since the last European Council talks collapsed without agreement in November last year.
Mr Cameron - in a nod to austerity - strode into the Council’s Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, foregoing the traditional arrival by limousine which marks the start of Council.
He told assembled reporters: “Frankly, the European Union should not be immune from the sorts of pressure we’ve had to reduce spending. When we were last here in November, the numbers that were put forward were much too high. If they don’t come down there won’t be a deal.”
Mr Hollande was equally determined to make his case, telling reporters: “If Europe were to seek a compromise at all costs to abandon its common policies, forget agriculture and ignore growth, I would not agree.” He immediately called for cuts to the UK’s annual €3.5bn rebate on its EU contributions – a complete no-go area for the British.
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