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Germany Set for EU Budget Refund

The European Union spent almost €5 billion ($5.7 billion) less than envisaged in its 2002 budget, meaning net contributors -- including Germany -- will be getting huge refunds. EU Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer was quick to point out that Germany's contributions to EU coffers had not contributed to the countries fiscal problems. Although Germany continued to be Europe's largest net contributor to the union's €83 billion budget last year, she said, the roughly €1 billion overpayment wouldn't have helped Germany avoid going over the 3 percent deficit limit the EU imposes on the members of the euro zone. "Even if Germany had not been contributing more than it received from the EU budget, the country would have failed the 3 percent deficit limit," she said.