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EU parliament, governments strike budget deal

The European Parliament and member state governments have finally reached a deal on the bloc's budget for next year. It's a compromise between temptations to spend more and national efforts to limit expenditures.

EU governments and the European Parliament struck a deal on Thursday on the bloc's 2017 budget, paving the way for spending to the tune of 134.5 billion euros ($144.4 billion) next year.

As usual, negotiations were protracted and fraught, with member states seeking to rein in expenditures, while the legislature advocated a spending boost.

The parliament had proposed a 2017 budget of 138 billion euros, compared with a cap of 133.8 billion euros originally demanded by national governments.

The bulk of the money is to flow back into the EU's 28 countries, taking the form of agricultural subsidies and support for poorer regions as well as special programs to foster education and research.

Getting more focused

"The strength of the 2017 budget lies in its focus on priority measures such as addressing migration," said Slovak Secretary for Finance Ivan Lesay, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

Watch video 01:53

Bulgaria's budget feels the pinch from the refugee crisis

"We will maintain expenditure to manage the refugee crisis at a high level," German budget negotiator Jens Spahn agreed.

Spending for migration-related programs is to rise by 11 percent to 5.9 billion euros, while resources allocated to job creation and economic growth are to increase by 12 percent to 21.3 billion euros across the bloc.

While spending will be boosted in pivotal areas, next year's expenditures will mark a 6.5-percent drop overall from 2016 allocations.

hg/sgb (AFP, dpa)

 

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