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MENAFN - AFP - 01/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) Germany and Ireland said on Thursday that they were committed to trying to reach a deal on the EU's long-term budget, as national stances hardened ahead of a crunch summit this month.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny that they had agreed it was crucial to keep working towards a deal.

"It is normal that positions are set out ahead of negotiations," she told reporters.

"Germany will do everything in its power to try to achieve a solution. Ireland will also do this -- we spoke about it -- and now we'll have to see how things develop. It is too early and I don't want to throw any more vetoes into the ring -- that doesn't help find a solution."

Merkel added that she would hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron next week where the EU budget would figure prominently.

Kenny, whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency in January, acknowledged that the positions expressed by leaders across the bloc were still far apart but said he was hopeful the differences could be surmounted.

"It's very necessary that the people of the EU and the eurozone see the decisions being made by leaders being followed through and one of these decisions to be arrived at is to have a budget so that the EU can do its work in the period 2014-2020," he said.

"So I hope that that can be arrived at successfully by discussion by political leaders."

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, wants a budget of 1.03 trillion euros (1.33 trillion) for 2014-2020, up 5.0 percent on 2007-2013, but seven major contributor states have balked at the increase at a time when they are having to cut spending at home.

Rebels from Cameron's Conservative party defied him over the EU budget by passing a motion late Wednesday urging him to insist on a real-terms cut in the budget at the summit in Brussels.

Cameron had attempted to stave off the move by promising to veto any above-inflation increase of the EU budget, which has become increasingly contentious as austerity measures bite across the continent.

He insists that a seven-year EU budget freeze in real terms is the best Britain can realistically expect, as most member states support a budget boost.

Meanwhile French European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday that Paris would not approve the budget if spending on the common agricultural policy were cut or if a rebate obtained by Britain were maintained.

German Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe, Michael Link, also drew a line in the sand, saying that a budget proposed by Cyprus was "too expensive and backward-looking in its content".

Cyprus, the current rotating president of the EU, put up a revised version of the Commission budget proposal Monday containing savings of "at least 50 billion euros," which it described as "a starting point" for member states.

Germany has demanded cuts of around 100 billion euros.


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