Fractious two-day talks on the new seven year European Union budget have collapsed in Brussels with sides no closer to agreement than before the start. The failure will cast a pall over the crisis-stricken union in the coming months.
“The budget deal wasn’t good enough for Britain, but it also wouldn’t good enough for a number of countries,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron, one of the most radically-minded leaders during the summit, summarized.
He claimed the outline proposed by EU officials “didn’t offer a single euro in savings” and was “insulting to taxpayers.”
The budget, which is made up of contributions from the soon-to-be 28 member states (Croatia joins in July next year) was to come into force in 2014, and total nearly €1 trillion over seven years.
But neither the precise size nor the allocation came close to being decided during the talks.
The traditional dividing line is between the net contributors, those being the wealthier founding countries, and the newer, mostly Eastern European states, which have been receiving subsidies since their accession over the past two decades.
But even among those blocs there was significant disagreement, as leaders of different political orientation came to the summit with wildly different agendas, often playing to their domestic audiences as much as trying to reach a genuine compromise.
New talks are now scheduled for early next year.