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EU agrees on 2014 budget

The 28 member states of the bloc and the European parliament ended months of wrangling on Tuesday and set the EU budget for 2014 at 135.5 billion euros, clearing the way for a larger framework through to 2020.

Months of negotiations between the EU parliament and the bloc's member states ended on Tuesday with the approval of the 2014 budget at 135.5 billion euros (181.1 billion dollars)

"The deal ... provides much needed investment opportunities to Europe's businesses, scientists, towns, regions and students at a time when investing is much needed," EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said. He called the compromise "decent," but didn't rule out that more funds may be required down the road to plug budget holes.

The parliament had previously been pushing for a figure of 136.4 billion euros, while the individual governments wanted to limit it to 135 billion euros.

Flood relief for Germany

The overnight talks also produced a 400-million-euro supplementary budget to cover relief work in the wake of Europe's severe flooding in June - drawing on funds still in the kitty for 2013 and an allocation out of the 2014 budget

The natural disaster along the Elbe and the Danube caused billions of euros of damage in Germany as well as in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Tuesday's agreement paves the way for a larger budgetary framework to be approved from 2014 to 2020. The EU parliament is due to vote on November 19 on the EU's seven-year budget, known as the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) - which is put at one trillion euros.

Four countries were "not able to join the vote," said Lithuanian Finance Vice-Minister Algimantas Rimkunas, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency. Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden demanded more savings because of domestic pressure to rein in spending in times of economic crisis.

ng/ipj (AFP, dpa)