Merkel insists will work for deal on EU budget
(BERLIN) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted on Wednesday that she would push for an agreement when EU leaders meet next week to try to overcome differences on a hotly contested proposal to increase the EU's long term budget.
"Even if we are net contributors and people could perhaps think that we can live with a non-agreement, that is not our goal," Merkel told a joint press conference with visiting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
"We want an agreement and we will talk exactly in this spirit with all countries," she added.
EU leaders are due to discuss the bloc's 2014-2020 budget at a November 22-23 summit that could turn into an ugly showdown presenting a bitterly divided Europe, torn between older wealthier states and poorer members on its southern and eastern fringe.
Countries disagree over whether to cut the European Commission's proposed 1.03-trillion-euro ($1.3 trillion) budget for 2014-20.
"Of course every country has its own interests, that's obvious. Germany also has for example very different interests," she said highlighting that Germany was a net contributor but its former communist eastern regions still receive EU structural funds.
"That means I have to try to find a position which is fair to all. I will travel next week to Brussels with the firm intention that we give our best in order to get an agreement," she added.
Tusk, whose country is a member of the Friends of Cohesion group which are net recipients of the EU's near trillion-euro budget, said he would meet the heads of the EU Parliament and Commission later Wednesday and French President Francois Hollande in Warsaw on Friday.
"I am a cautious optimist but also a realist," he said, adding that his talks with Merkel in the German capital had shown that "we have good will to reach a compromise" but they were still midway on the path and it could still be a long one.