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Provisional deal on EU budget reached

Negotiators for the European parliament and EU member states have reached a provisional deal on the bloc's long-term budget at marathon talks in Brussels. A leading Socialist parliamentarian has withheld approval.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore of Ireland, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, described the EU budgetary outcome as a "very good day for Europe." Bulgarian social euro parliamentarian Ivailo Kalfin declined to confirm agreement.

"Negotiations concluded. Not satisfactory to all. We cannot confirm agreement," said Kalfin, who had been the head negotiator for the Socialists, the second largest grouping within the European parliament.

Gilmore, who represented the 27 EU governments at more than 24 hours of talks that wound up near midnight, local time, on Wednesday, said he would ask EU ministers to endorse the provisional deal when they meet in Luxembourg next Tuesday.

It also still needs majority support from the Strasbourg-based parliament which for the first time can exercise powers to sign off on the bloc's expenditures.

Wednesday's talks left unchanged overall spending for the seven-year-period from 2014 through to 2020 at 960 billion euros.

That limit was set in February at crisis talks by EU government leaders and represented the first real-term cut in the EU's multi-year budget in response to recession across Europe.

While agriculture and regional development funding will form the largest chucks of the EU's budget – at 278 and 325 billion euros respectively – negotiators agreed at the latest negotiations to provide "strong funding" to deal with rising unemployment – particularly youth joblessness - in the bloc.

'Enhanced' budget

EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said Europe's solidarity fund would be "enhanced" too so that the EU was "more responsive to natural disasters" such as flooding.

The two sides also agreed to "carry forward" discussion on parliament's demands that unspent monies be moved from one year's budget to the next and that the EU budget be financed through an EU tax.

That proposal has been rejected by Germany. The EU currently gets its funding through allocations from the budgets of individual EU member nations.

ipj/jm (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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