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Europe

EU Budget Battle to Begin in Earnest

EU Finance Ministers will meet near The Hague Friday to thrash out a whole host of economic issues, including how the EU should be financed from 2007 onwards.

The meeting Friday marks the first time finance ministers will officially discuss commission proposals on the EU budget from 2007-2013 and two main battlegrounds are expected to emerge. First is how much money member states will transfer to the EU. Brussels insists that the EU's budget must be expanded and has called for an increase during the period from €133 billion ($ 162 billion) in 2007 to €158 billion in 2013. Six member states who pay more into the EU budget than they receive, have demanded that the budget ceiling be capped to 1 percent of gross national income. The second point of contention will be Britain's EU budget rebate. The UK must accept that its 4.6 billion euro yearly rebate from the EU coffers is no longer sustainable, Gerrit Zalm, Dutch finance minister and current president of the council of finance ministers, told the Financial Times newspaper. (EUobserver.com)

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