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25.04.2012, 07:27 BBC News.co.uk

EU Commission to propose 6.8% budget increase for 2013

EU Commission to propose 6.8% budget increase for 2013

Officials from the European Commission are due to outline proposals on Wednesday for a 6.8% rise in the EU's budget for 2013.

The proposals will be a starting point for negotiations with the EU's 27 member states.

Some EU members, including the UK, have consistently urged the Commission to scale down its spending plans.

However, Commission officials are expected to argue the budget increase is needed to meet prior EU commitments.

The BBC's Nigel Cassidy says the Commission has to pay for a string of long-term projects, such as infrastructure and research programmes, that it is legally obliged to cover.

The Commission will risk accusations of double standards, as it has been leading calls for budget discipline throughout Europe, our correspondent adds.

In 2012 the EU budget was 129.1bn euros (£105bn; $170bn), a 1.9% increase on 2011.

The largest allocation - 45.9% - was funding to boost growth and jobs in Europe's less developed regions, called "cohesion funds".

Agriculture and fisheries took 40.8% of the budget, while EU administration costs amounted to 5.6%.

Richard Corbett, an adviser to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, said the EU budget commissioner's announcement at 13:00 (1100 GMT) would be just the starting point for negotiations with the governments and European Parliament.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said payments for 2013 already agreed by ministers were now becoming due, as the EU works on a seven-year budget cycle.

Negotiations are already under way over the next cycle, for 2014-2020.

The goal is to avoid duplication by pooling Europe's resources, so saving money nationally, Mr Corbett said.

"The usual pattern is that the Commission's initial bid is pared down," he added, and noted that just 2% of public spending is at European level.

The UK government is thought to be among those who would oppose any increase.

"The UK has been consistent that at a time when member states are tightening their belts, the EU must show budgetary restraint," a British government spokesman in Brussels told Reuters news agency.

Poorer member states are meanwhile expected to lobby to keep the regional spending they say is essential for growth and creating jobs.

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