EU leaders warn budget deal far off


European leaders voiced pessimism Friday on reaching a deal on a trillion-euro EU budget, as gruelling talks pushed into a second day with little prospect of bridging bitter divisions.
The summit talks in Brussels were suspended overnight after less than an hour and a half, having already begun hours late on Thursday due to the vast differences on the need for cuts between the bloc’s have and have-not nations.
The negotiations were scheduled to resume at 1100 GMT on Friday once delegates from the 27 member nations have had time to examine new proposals on the 2014-2020 budget submitted by EU president Herman Van Rompuy.
But with an increasingly eurosceptic Britain threatening to wield its veto, and splits throughout the EU over the level of spending, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that any deal may have to wait.
“I think we’re advancing a bit, but I doubt that we will reach a deal,” Merkel said as she and her fellow leaders left the first session of talks.
French President Francois Hollande also warned that failure to reach a deal was increasingly likely.
“It’s what everyone has in mind,” Hollande said as he left for the night, due back hours later to try to breach the divisions.
But giving “time to time to reach a deal” will “most likely be the wise choice,” he said.
The first round of talks followed a tough day of face-to-face meetings between Van Rompuy and each of the bloc’s leaders, followed by a flurry of backroom bilaterals.
“Maybe this meeting will be long and complicated,” Van Rompuy said as the two-day talks opened. “Fortunately this issue only comes up every seven years,” he added.