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European budget talks must be 'constructive,' EC president says


European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso addresses European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on November 21, 2012.



The president of the European Commission is offering dire predictions one day ahead of budget meetings in Europe.

Jose Barroso told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France Wednesday that political leaders must view Thursday’s meeting with an eye toward prosperity and not restriction.

“I see a major threat,” Barroso said, according to Bloomberg. “Compromises have to be constructive. They’ve got to be about strengthening Europe and not about pulling Europe apart.”

EU leaders are meeting to set a budget for the next seven years — 2014 to 2020 — and a UK-backed group wants to “freeze” it, Bloomberg said.

Barroso said the budget is an excellent way to promote European “cohesion” and stimulate growth, according to Bloomberg.

On the table Thursday is the one-trillion-euro budget ($1.28 trillion), and high-profile nations are calling for cuts as high as 200 billion euros ($256 billion), the ANSA news agency said.

Britain, Germany and Sweden are leading the charge for austerity, a direction Barroso said he fears. 

“Our proposals represent the public's interest,” Barroso said, ANSA reported.

“(Countries) spend billions to save banks (from going to the wall), and then cut a few million from the poor: how do you think that citizens can swallow that?”

Meanwhile, Greek politicians are rebuking their colleagues for stalling bailout payments, the Financial Times said.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras accused the EU of “negligence” when it comes to a 44-billion-euro ($56 billion) payment and extended aid program, the FT said.

“Greece did what it had committed it would do,” Samaras said in prepared remarks. “Our partners, together with the IMF, also have to do what they have taken on to do. Any technical difficulties in finding a technical solution do not justify any negligence or delays.”

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