Negotiations on the European Union’s budget are over, on the second day of the EU summit in Brussels. Media reports say that leaders of wealthier countries felt the proposed seven-year spending plan for the 27 member states wasn’t austere enough. It seemed the meeting had barely gotten underway before the news broke that they were done.
On Nov. 22, delays led to a late 9pm start in Brussels. The meeting ended at midnight. Already, as Quartz reported earlier today, there was talk of a possible breakdown, with Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, warning that “positions remain too far apart.” Today, things didn’t kick off until midday, and not long after 5pm Brussels time, leaders had called it quits and begun tweeting.
An hour ago, Belgium’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, wrote that they couldn’t reach agreement and would meet again in January.
A later tweet from Reynders regretted that budget meetings had gotten off to a bad start. Herman van Rompuy, the European Council president, put a better spin on things, saying: EU leaders had a “constructive discussion” showing “a sufficient degree of potential conversion to make an agreement possible at the beginning of next year.”
News reports said European officials from a bloc of net-paying (those who pay in more than they get out) countries felt the budget lacked spending restraint, and said the collapse in talks wasn’t the result of one nation threatening to veto. Van Rompuy said a deal could be reached next year and there was no cause for alarm:
We need some more time to find a solution. There’s no need to dramatize.