Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain’s Conservative MEPs has cautiously welcomed news of a deal at the Brussels summit on the EU’s Multi-annual Financial Framework.
He said: “We welcome a smaller EU budget over all and we should compliment Mr Van Rompuy for bringing some of the parties to this agreement such a long distance in negotiation.
“However, the EU’s greatest problem right now is the desperate need for jobs and growth. We therefore think it is regrettable that the largest burden of cuts should be borne by the section of the budget which support Jobs, growth and competitiveness.
“At a time when Europe needs to be addressing these issues it is a missed opportunity that the Council has not reviewed traditional areas of spending such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the spending of EU structural funds in prosperous Member States.
“These proposals now have to be put to the European Parliament for its approval at its plenary session in March. We note that the Council’s position is a long way removed from that of many MEPs and probably the parliament as a whole. There is still a lot of hard bargaining to come.
“Therefore in coming months we will be doing everything in our power to push for an agreement which not only reduces the size of the budget but also directs funding to the areas where it is needed.”