Britain is expected to present a new proposal for the European Union’s long-term budget this Friday, late in the morning.
After a dinner of the EU leaders in Brussels, one official said the remaining division was still very big because there had been no discussion on figures. Failure to agree on the 2007-13 budget could further undermine the EU after a year of setbacks, notably rejection of the bloc’s first constitution by French and Dutch voters. It could also isolate Britain and delay investment in new member states’ development projects. Prime Minister Tony Blair is current European Council president:“In principle, everyone wants an agreement; In practice, everyone has got their own issues to do with it, so it is going to be difficult.” Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso took an ambitious tone:“Some move has to be made in the British abatement, and something has to be done in term of a comprehensive wide review clause. So I believe an agreement is possible, but it will require a great effort, a great sense of engagement and responsibility on all sides.” Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson warned that if no deal turned up this Friday, there would not be one for all of 2006.