European Commission agrees €960bn budget

A tentative deal has been reached on a seven-year, €960bn budget that will come into effect next year, the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said today.

European Commission agrees €960bn budget

A tentative deal has been reached on a seven-year, €960bn budget that will come into effect next year, the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said today.

The new package, which still requires legislative approval, aims to stimulate growth with a particular emphasis on job creation and in particular youth unemployment.

It European Parliament President Martin Schulz called the deal “acceptable” and said he will push strongly for its passing.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the important thing was that it would ensure funds for jobs and growth in the EU over the next seven years.

"We are confident that we can bring all of the member states with us on this," he said.

"There has been a long and tortuous process to get here. The Council agreed on the overall figure.

"There have been some rational discussions about movement within that budget, and this is what's agreed today, and I expect every Council member will now support the MMF [Multiannual Financial Framework]."

The European Parliament had threatened to vote down the agreement negotiated by the Irish on behalf of the other member states over the past few months.

One of the key points that unlocked the deal was to front-load money aimed especially at reducing the rate of youth unemployment that has escalated to more than 50% in some countries.

Funds will also be made available in the early years for SMEs, education and research although it will not increase the overall size of the budget.

There was a gentleman’s agreement that the money outstanding for this year would be paid - a contentious issue since the Commission said the bills from the member states amount to more than €11 billion than they will receive this year.

Mr Barroso, who called this morning’s meeting, congratulated the Irish presidency for securing the deal, without which EU spending on programmes next year could have been delayed.

The 27 EU nations have been trying since last autumn to cobble together a budget for the years 2014-2020 at a time when many of them are mired in recession.

The budget sets what the EU can spend on everything from infrastructure, farming to development aid and employment measures.

- Additional reporting by Ann Cahill, Irish Examiner Europe Correspondent

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