A first attempt at striking a deal on the European Union's 2013 spending program has failed. The talks stalled as member states said they would not sign off on an increase to this year’s budget, prompting a walkout.
The talks broke down in apparent acrimony after eight hours of negotiations in Brussels between members of the European Parliament and national representatives.
An impasse arose between parliamentary delegates and representatives of individual countries, including ministers, when eight member states, including Germany and Britain, said they would not agree to a European Commission request to increase the 2012 budget.
The commission and European Parliament want an extra 9 billion euros ($11.5 billion) to pay for its outstanding commitments and another 670 million euros for victims of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake in Italy.
Fresh talks have been scheduled for Tuesday, hours ahead of a deadline for the budget to be approved.
"Under these conditions, we felt that negotiations which hadn't really begun by six o'clock in the evening couldn't reasonably be expected to finish during the night," said the parliament's chief negotiator Alain Lamassoure.
When asked if the parliamentarians had taken a decision to walk out, Lamassoure said: "I would say rather that it was the ministers who didn't walk in."
Brussels officials and lawmakers are calling for a 2013 budget of almost 138 billion euros, representing a 6.8 percent rise on this year. Those opposing the increase favour a figure of around 132.7 billion, a 2.8-percent increase more closely aligned with inflation levels.
Top contributors to the budget include Germany, France and Britain, who want to limit proposed increases in EU spending in light of austerity policies at home. Britain is holding out for a freeze or even a reduction in the budget.
The disputes over immediate spending needs, including those for next year, would need to be resolved ahead of a summit later in November, when leaders try to agree on longer-term budget figures for 2014 to 2020.
rc/kms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)