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Germany

Germany Makes EU Budget Accord Unlikely

The European Union's presidency warned on Wednesday that it was increasingly unlikely the bloc could strike an accord on long-term EU budget plans next month, notably due to anticipated early elections in Germany. Britain's refusal to surrender its long-cherished budget rebate is also a key sticking point, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, whose country holds the EU reins until July 1, told Belgium's Le Soir daily. "Concerning the financial perspectives, I believe (a solution) is becoming less and less achievable," he added, using EU-jargon for talks on a budget deal for the 2007-2013 period. The budget haggle, which have been simmering for months, pits EU's six biggest contributor countries -- including Britain, France and Germany -- against smaller states and the bloc's executive commission in Brussels. The European Commission is angling for a budget of 1.24 percent of gross national income, while the six paymaster states want it frozen at 1.0 percent. The EU presidency has proposed a compromise of around 1.09 percent. Luxembourg has consistently said it wanted an accord at a June 16-17 summit. But the political turmoil in Germany following the ruling Social Democrats' defeat Sunday in a key state election is threatening to make Berlin's stance less flexible.

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