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European Union

Chancellor Merkel warns of tough EU budget negotiations

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the outcome of negotiations on a new long-term EU budget is far from certain. At the same time though, she said Germany would do all it could to get a deal.

Speaking in her weekly podcast Chancellor Merkel said the negotiations, to be held at a European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday would be extremely difficult.

"But it is worth trying," she said. "Germany will try to contribute to a result. We will only be able to see at the end of next week whether it succeeds," she added.

The chancellor also stressed the importance of getting an agreement to the eurozone's economy, saying it would give national governments more financial support. However she also noted that as Europe's biggest economy, Germany would have its own interests to defend during the negotiations.

"Germany is one of the biggest net contributors in the European Union. Therefore, what is most important to us is that these funds are used in a way that will really help make the European Union more competitive and effective," the chancellor said.

Merkel is to meet with a number of her fellow eurozone leaders, including French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over the next few days in an effort to lay the groundwork for a possible deal.

Another major player, British Prime Minister David Cameron, has said he is "hopeful" that a deal can be struck. He was quoted by Britain's Press Association news agency as saying that he had formed a "strong alliance" with other net contributors to the 27-member bloc's budget, including Demark, the Netherlands and Sweden, and that he was counting on "support" from Germany in the negotiations.

Just how difficult it will be to get a deal on the EU's long-term budget became clear at a previous summit in November, when the leaders had originally hoped to reach a deal. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy ultimately failed to achieve an agreement despite cutting billions of euros in spending from the Commission's original proposal and holding several one-on-one meetings with various leaders during the two-day summit.

The starting point for next week's talks is the revised proposal, which includes a maximum of 1.09 trillion euros ($1.49 billion) in spending over seven years.

pfd/dr (Reuters, dpa, AFP)