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Friday dawns at EU HQ but little light shed on budget split

by Ace Damon
Friday dawns at EU HQ but little light shed on budget split

BRUSSELS (AP) – The sun rose over the European Union headquarters on Friday after a night of negotiations, but little light was shed on how far the 27 bloc leaders could approach to resolve their stalemate over a common budget of 1 trillion euros ($ 1.1 trillion) for the next seven years.

Asked about the situation in which he left the building in Brussels in the early hours of the morning, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "I don't know, we have to wait tomorrow".

"I'm going to bed," said Rutte, as he left with a biography of Chopin under his arm – a proposal to suggest that he, like many other leaders, will not be straying too far from his position and expects too much. during this extraordinary summit on the EU spending package for 2021-2027.

EU Council President Charles Michel, summit president, held individual meetings with each of the 27 leaders overnight, while those awaiting met in pairs and in small groups, while experts analyzed the numbers in backstage.

At the last word, leaders should meet again at 11 am (1000 GMT). But, like so much at this marathon summit, nothing can be immutable.

What is really at stake is whether leaders are ready to put their money in their mouth when it comes to European political ambitions, such as combating climate change and developing the digital economy. At the same time, they cannot give the public the impression that they are spending taxpayers' money when economic growth is limited.

With Britain abandoned, leaders want to prove that Europe can still move towards brighter horizons, but Brexit has left them with a sizable budget hole – some 75 billion euros ($ 81 billion) in seven years .

In the grand scheme of things, it is not a huge amount of money for the largest trading bloc in the world. Even though a trillion euros (US $ 1.1 trillion) seems like a lot, it is actually equivalent to about 1% of the gross national income of the 27 nations combined. The debate is over 0.3 percentage points.

Michel entered the summit with a draft budget of 1.074% of the EU's gross national income. The European Parliament wants 1.3% ambitious, while the EU's powerful executive branch, the European Commission, prefers 1.11%.

It is not just about convincing reluctant member countries to spend resources. Parliament must also ratify any final budgetary agreement and, for the time being, EU lawmakers are far from happy.

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