European leaders agree on long-term EU budget
European summit of 7-8 February 2013 ended with a deal on the EU financial plan for 2014-2020. Next step: European Parliament. European heads of State and government have agreed on a financial plan representing around 1 % of the EU Gross National Income (GNI), less than what had initially been proposed by the European Commission, but also less than what had been set aside for the previous period (2007-2013).
The “deal is not perfect” said President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso in a statement “but it was the highest possible level of agreement that the heads of State and government could reach at unanimity”.
Mr Barroso highlighted several positive elements of the agreement: the new Connecting Europe Facility proposed by the Commission, which aims to boost infrastructure projects in the EU was maintained; in addition, research and innovation, Erasmus, as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises will enjoy more significant investment than previously. The President of the Commission also welcomed the new Youth Employment Initiative, which seeks to tackle youth unemployment in the regions most affected by this problem. He also underlined the preservation of the aid programme for the most deprived people in Europe and of EU aid to developing countries.
The deal must still be approved by the European Parliament. The Parliament’s four largest political groups already warned that "the real negotiations will start now”.