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Crunch EU budget meeting pencilled in for May 6

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(BRUSSELS) - Permanent EU heads Herman Van Rompuy, Jose Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz will meet in early May seeking to break a deadlock on the European Union's budget for the rest of the decade, a key negotiator told AFP Wednesday.

The chairman for the Council of EU heads of state and government, Van Rompuy, will sit down with Barroso, the head of the bloc's executive -- a civil service of tens of thousands of mainly Brussels-based staff -- and European Parliament speaker Schulz, said parliamentary budget committee chair Alain Lamassoure of France.

"May 6 has been mooted, but the date has still to be finalised," he said.

Under pressure led by British Prime Minister David Cameron -- fighting a rising eurosceptic electoral threat in England -- leaders decided earlier this year that the EU's budget would require a real-terms cut for the first time in the bloc's six-decade existence.

This was to ensure spending controlled from Brussels -- almost a trillion euros worth over the EU's upcoming seven-year budgetary cycle -- would be clipped in line with painful national austerity demanded by EU managers during the debt crisis of the last few years.

But the negotiations -- albeit over sums fractional to major member states' national spending commitments -- have proved harder than ever, especially with the EU Parliament holding new powers since the EU's last major treaty revision.

Until a final deal is agreed and signed off by the parliament, big-ticket decisions on investment seen as best-placed to unlock economic growth and job creation will be difficult to launch.

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