A dispute between European Union President Britain and the EU’s executive Commission over future spending has burst into the open. During negotiations on the bloc’s draft 2006 budget, the Commission blasted a proposal by EU governments. This was made under Britain’s stewardship; it is to cut nearly 1.2 billion euros from the part of the draft concerning growth projects. Britain’s Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Ivan Lewis, retorted:
“The Commission repeatedly referred to presidency proposals to cut the research budget. The Council’s proposal is to increase, in one year, 2006, the research budget by 12%. The Commission sought an increase of 22%. So, there is no cut, there is a growth, an increase of 12%. It is simply not as much as the Commission sought for 2006.”
Lewis added he thought Britain should be able to secure a deal on funding before the end of this year. Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite, further, criticised cuts that would stop hiring at the executive.
“The proposal on the table today nothing relates to the positions, who is employed, better or less, new or old members, but that means that from 2006, Commission will be stopping all, all recruitement, all.”
Talks on the EU’s spending plan broke down at a summit in June. Many diplomats believe there will be no agreement for another year. Germany, the Netherlands and Austria abstained in this Friday’s vote on the draft budget. Germany said it did not contain enough cuts.