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European Union

EU Parliament wants fresh negotiations on bloc budget

The European Parliament has dismissed a 2014-20 EU budget. The assembly demanded a new round of negotiations for a financial plan to see out the rest of the decade.

Members of the European Parliament raise their hands in a vote during the plenary session in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 13 March 2013. The European Parliament rejected the compromise of EU governments for the financial planning of the European Union until 2020. EPA/PATRICK SEEGER

Europaparlament Haushalt 2014-2020 Abstimmung

"This is a very important day and important step for the European democracy," the president of the legislature, Martin Schulz, said Wednesday following the decision.

"The vote has shown that the European Parliament must be taken seriously as a negotiating partner," Schulz added. "We are now ready to negotiate a fair multiannual budget."

Members of the European Parliament voted 506 in favor and 161 against the budget "in its current form," with 23 abstentions on the budget plan.

Major political parties, who had backed the resolution at a summit in February, rejected the sums agreed to by the bloc's leaders, saying the new figures tied the Union's hands behind its back for the next seven years and "cannot be accepted unless certain essential conditions" are met.

MEPs are seeking changes, including greater flexibility from one year to the next on how funds are accounted for.

"Today's vote is a clear indication that the European Parliament has not accepted the responsibilities given to it by the treaties and will fight for an improved budget for the EU," said Hannes Swoboda, leader of the chamber's Socialist grouping.

"We are ready for serious negotiations and we hope that governments will be as serious and responsible as the European Parliament. We should work together for a result which is more responsive to the needs of the citizens and to global competition."

At a leaders meeting in February the bloc nations agreed to limit payments made by the EU to 908.4 billion euros ($1.18 trillion), with a ceiling of 960 billion euros for spending "commitments."

Officials say they aim to finalize a compromise before the summer.

As it stands, the budget will see the first-ever cut to spending since the end of World War Two.

jlw/dr (AFP, Reuters, AP)