News

    EU Leaders Discuss Budget Deadlock, Constitutional Crisis

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Roger Wilkison

    European Union leaders have begun a crucial summit in Brussels amid fears that the crisis over rejection of the bloc's constitution by French and Dutch voters will be compounded by a deadlock over the union's long-term budget.

    Although it is an unusually sunny day in Brussels, the mood at the summit is glum. The EU was plunged into a political crisis when the French and the Dutch rejected the constitution that was meant to streamline decision making in the 25-nation bloc. Now, a financial crisis looms, because failure to agree on a budget could paralyze the EU's investment programs.

    Getting a deal on the EU's future spending from 2007 onwards was a priority for Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker. He saw a budget deal as a signal that, despite the constitutional defeats, the EU can still forge a common front and move ahead on vital issues. But Mr. Juncker now admits that an accord is nearly impossible.

    Analyst Alasdair Murray, at London's Center for European Reform, says he does not hold out much hope for a successful summit.

    "The idea that, you know, the EU can show that it's business as usual by getting a deal on the budget is out. Similarly, it's going to be still a problematic discussion about what to do abut the constitutional treaty," he said. "I think we will get some form of words, but the words will rather reveal the disagreements rather than the agreements, and whilst most people will believe the treaty is effectively dead, there will be one or two countries that continue to mutter about carrying on with the process."

    Britain and some other countries say the constitutional process should be put on hold. France and Germany say ratification should go ahead in other countries despite the "no" votes, which effectively put the constitution in the freezer though, perhaps, not in the morgue.

    But it is the budget battle that has most EU officials worried. French President Jacques Chirac is insisting that Britain give up the rebate it has had on its EU budget contributions for the past 20 years. The rebate, given to Britain when it was a much poorer country than it is today, saves it $5 billion a year. Mr. Chirac's call has been echoed by other countries and by the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.

    Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
    "The situation is no longer the same, and there are now ten new members who are much poorer than Britain, and I'm sure the British government recognizes that," he said.

    Britain says the rebate is non-negotiable unless France agrees to review the EU's farm subsidy program, from which it benefits more than any other country. Mr. Chirac says "no" to that idea.

    A budget deadlock would especially hurt the new member states from Eastern Europe that are counting on investment money from Brussels. Dariusz Rosati, a Polish member of the European Parliament, says the fight over money is unseemly and could hinder European integration.

    "Of course, they undermine the confidence in the union, and many citizens may ask themselves the question whether the European construction is still valid and still viable," he said.

    The battle over who gets how much money always brings out the worst in EU politicians. Analysts say it is easier for EU leaders to grandstand before domestic audiences and complain about how much they contribute to the bloc instead of talking about the advantages they gain from EU membership.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora