In the ongoing row between the EU Commission and a number of member states over the future of the European Union's budget, officials from Berlin and Brussels raised the level of rhetoric over the weekend. EU Budgetary Commissioner Michaele Schreyer said in an interview with the
Financial Times Deutschland that plans to cap the budget by net contributor countries could endanger regional aid to Germany's economically depressed eastern states. In a separate interview, German Finance Minister Hans Eichel told
Die Welt am Sonntag that Berlin planned to stay "rock hard" in upcoming budget talks. The Commission said last week it wanted to raise the amount countries pay from the present 1.14 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) to 1.23 percent starting in 2008. Commission President Romano Prodi says budget increase is necessary once the EU expands from 15 to 25 members in May. But Germany, Austria, Sweden, U.K., France and the Netherlands -- net contributors to European Union budget --have come out against an increase. They want to keep the limit at 1 percent.