EU head urges lawmakers to pass budget
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BRUSSELS, Feb 18 AFP
February 19 2013, 04:24AM
EU chair Herman Van Rompuy has urged lawmakers to "think twice" before voting down a cut in the bloc's budget for the rest of the decade.
"With a budget of one per cent of the EU's GDP, we aren't going to be able to resolve all the problems of unemployment," European Union president Van Rompuy said in a tense presentation to the European Parliament on Monday.
"It's a contribution," he said of the deal for a seven-year budget agreed at an all-night summit on February 7-8 that would give Brussels a guaranteed outlay of 908.4 billion euros ($A1.2 trillion).
The budget deal, to cover years 2014 through 2020, is a cut of some three per cent on the 2007-13 package.
"We need to keep a sense of proportion," he said, urging MEPs to "think twice" about rejecting the compromise figures - a first-ever real-terms cut in six decades of the EU - in a July vote.
In a debate that saw Van Rompuy largely isolated - save for English Conservative MEP Martin Callanan - the former Belgian prime minister said a failure by the parliament to back the budget would hit scientific research and investment, key drivers for growth and jobs.
"Big projects depend on this," he said, stressing that "to avoid any delays and uncertainty, I urge parliament and (EU leaders) to conclude (negotiations) quickly" or face "deadlock".
Parliament head Martin Schulz has warned the summit deal was unacceptable while European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso also urged lawmakers to stand firm in negotiations.
The leader of the EU-wide group of conservative MEPs, Joseph Daul, said his members were mainly demanding "a watertight commitment to a review clause within two to three years".
Socialists counterpart Hannes Swoboda said "there will be no majority for (this deal) in this chamber".