BRUSSELS: EU leaders clashed through the night early on Friday as a stormy summit to decide the bloc’s seven-year, trillion euro budget entered a second day.
The meeting to decide the EU’s first budget since the UK left the bloc exposed bitter divisions between penny-pinching rich nations, poorer ones wanting to preserve spending and others wanting to fund grand global ambitions.
The drawn-out tussle for money is a Brussels ritual, but is especially problematic this time around because of Britain’s departure from the EU.
The “Brexit gap” caused by the loss of the UK’s contribution is 75 billion euros ($81bn) over the 2021-2027 period, but French President Emmanuel Macron insisted this must not mean the EU should trim its ambitions by cutting spending.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned there were “major differences” to overcome among the 27 countries, as some officials braced for talks to drag into the weekend.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020