European Council President Herman Van Rompuy has revealed the deal worked out by the region’s leaders to cut EU spending for the next seven years.
The agreement, reached at a two-day summit of the 27 European leaders after 24 hours of negotiations, means spending will go down for the first time in the EU’s history.
Brussels will work to a ceiling of 960 billion euros between 2014 and 2020. That is three percent less than the last seven-year plan.
Van Rompuy said: “It’s perhaps nobody’s perfect budget, but there’s a lot in it for everybody.”
Explaining that a leaner budget was needed because of the extremely difficult economic realities across Europe, he added: “It’s future-orientated. It’s realistic and it’s driven by pressing concerns.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “good deal for Britain”. He is one of those who has been pressing hardest for a reduction.
Cameron tried to make a comparison that ordinary households would understand: “The major problem we had was that the credit card limit for the European Union has been too high, it’s always been pushed up, there are lots of people who wanted to put it up and at last someone has come along and said this has got to stop, it is time for that credit card limit to come down.”
The deal now goes to the European Parliament for final approval, which could take several months, and it is far from guaranteed as leading legislators have already expressed opposition.
“The European Parliament will not accept this deficit budget if it is adopted in this way. That is certain,” the parliament’s president Martin Schulz said.
This agreement took so long to reach because it had to meet the demands of northern European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands that wanted belt-tightening, while maintaining spending on farm subsidies and infrastructure to satisfy the likes of France and Poland.