‘EU leaders were facing budget chaos today at a bruising first summit since Brexit as four wealthy nations refused to fill the gap left by Britain’s departure.
The 27 leaders reached a stalemate after arguing into the early hours in Brussels, with talks on the trillion-euro budget resuming for a second day today and this afternoon there was still deadlock.
The UK’s departure has left the bloc with a €75billion (£63billion) hole in its finances over seven years and the budget battle has exposed bitter divisions between EU members.
Germany wants to spend more on climate change while France is seeking more money for a joint defence, with poorer nations determined to keep their generous EU payouts.
But the so-called ‘frugal four’ of Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden are unwilling to pay more to plug the gap.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who came prepared for a long-haul summit by carrying a biography of Frederic Chopin, said he did ‘not plan to put my signature’ to the latest compromise proposal.
EU figures are seeking a figure of 1.08 per cent of the bloc’s combined GDP to cover the six years from 2021 to 2027, but the frugal nations are unwilling to go above the current 1 per cent.
Meanwhile nations that receive ‘cohesion funds’ want more still, with authoritarian Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban telling reporters today they want ‘at least 1.3 per cent or close to that.’
The UK’s departure last month meant it was not dragged into the row over money that would have been sure to spark fury among eurosceptics. ‘
Read more: EU gripped by budget chaos after Brexit: Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden REFUSE to pay for one trillion euro plan to help poor regions, fight climate change and plug budget black hole left by Britain’s departure