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Business

EU Parliament walks away from budget talks

The European Parliament has refused to negotiate further on the 27-member bloc's 2013 budget. It criticized member states, saying they had failed to fund shortfalls which have been amassed in the course of this year.

The European Parliament refused to continue budget talks scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening. It said it was not willing to attend negotiations on the EU's financial framework because of its discontent with member states' handling of a required amendment to this year's budget.

"We know that programs as important as the European Social Fund, rural development aid, humanitarian aid and [the study-abroad program] Erasmus have been short of money for more than a month," the chair of the Budget Committee, Alain Lamassoure, said in a statement, complaining about member states not willing to foot the bill through a supplementary 2012 budget.

"Given the current impossibility in which member states find themselves to solve the problem of the outstanding balance, the European Parliament cannot continue negotiations on next year's budget," Lamassoure commented.

New round of haggling ahead

He emphasized, though, that earthquake aid for Italy to the tune of 670 million euros ($851 million) which had been part of the current talks would be handled separately, noting that the parliament would be ready to vote on that specific issue next week, if EU governments brought forward a proposal.

Discrepancies about the 2013 budget are also looming large. The bloc's executive and the parliament are in favor of a budget worth 138 billion euros, but member states appear adamant in their resolve to spend about 5.0 billion euros less next year.

A first round of talks on Friday yielded no results either. This means that the European Commission will now have to present a revised draft budget. If no accord is reached, 2013 spending will have to be approved by member states on a month-by-month basis.

hg/ipj (dpa, dapd, AFP)