Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach hopeful of EU budget deal

A deal is close over the European budget and could be reached next week, Ireland's Taoiseach has claimed.

Enda Kenny added he would like it to be sealed before a European Council meeting of ministers next Thursday. His country's term in the presidency is nearing an end.

Late night negotiations this week brought a deal on the multi-year budget closer. The budget ceiling for 2014-2020 has already been set at 960 billion euro (£822 billion).

Mr Kenny said in Londonderry in Northern Ireland: "It is not over the line, it is close to the line and this may well go close to the line through next week and up until Wednesday evening.

"I would like that it might be concluded before the European Council but clearly the (European) Parliament is required to give its authorisation and approval following the Lisbon Treaty which everyone accepts."

He said the negotiating strategy of his deputy, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, was put to representatives of the European Parliament and did not meet dissent. Parliamentarians are still trying to reach agreement.

Mr Kenny added: "This is not across the line and there will be some discussions today and over the weekend, with the hope that we can bring it to fruition by the European Council date."

The Council meets on June 27 and Ireland's presidency ends this month.

EU politicians have been wrangling over the seven-year EU budget for months. It regulates what the bloc can spend on things like agricultural subsidies, infrastructure, and measures to support employment.

The leaders of the EU's 27 member states agreed in February on a budget worth 960 billion euro (£821.6 billion), which would represent a first-ever spending cut.

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