Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has told euronews that he is confident a deal can be struck on the EU budget when leaders meet next year.
He spoke with our correspondent Margherita Sforza after the end of negotiations in Brussels.
“I foresee that the decision will be taken with all the 27,” Reinfeldt said, downplaying press reports of a rumoured deal between France and Germany to agree the budget without the UK.
“We need more bilateral discussions, and I don’t see it as very strange to postpone this discussions to the beginning of the next year: this is a budget which will come into force only at the start of 2014, so we still have the time.”
But some MEPs are angry that no agreement has been made, arguing that EU spending pales in comparison to cash spent by national goverments.
Any deal between the 27 member states and soon-to-be member Croatia must be ratified by the European Parliament.
Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, now a leading Liberal MEP, branded the dispute over the budget “ridiculous”.
“We are talking about a European budget of about 140 billion euros (per year), well the budget of the member states of the EU is 6,300 billion euros, 6.3 trillion euros. 50 times more. So it’s not very serious all this dispute,” he told euronews.
Our correspondent Margherita Sforza said the early conclusion of the talks was designed to “take the drama out” of negotiations.
“They did it to avoid a breakdown with the UK, at least for the moment,” she said.