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Europe

Accession States May Support Budget Caps

In an exclusive interview with the EUobserver, the finance minister of Sweden says other member states may soon be supporting the initial six net payers in calling for caps to the future European Union budget.

The now famous "group of six," the six countries calling for a cap in the EU budget, may soon get bigger. Bosse Ringholm, finance minister of Sweden - which along with the Netherlands, France, the UK, Germany and Austria - signed the letter in December, said Wednesday he expects to be able to drum up more support against Tuesday's European Commission's proposals to increase the budget. He also indicated that support might come from new member states, which have most to benefit from an increased budget. In an exclusive interview with the EUobserver, Ringholm said: "I have talked to some of the new countries and I am happy with the situation. I think it will be possible to have more support for the one percent initiative." The new countries "also are in a situation where they have a lot of domestic expenditure, and, although they are preparing to receive a lot of support from the EU, at the same time, they will also be interested in giving as little as possible in terms of fees to the EU", added the minister. One day earlier, Commission President Romano Prodi rejected calls for budgetary prudence, outlining a budget that runs to just over €900 billion over seven years. One of his main arguments to justify the expanded budget is that the EU needs more money to cope with enlargement. ( EUobserver.com)