Austria threatens to veto EU budget: reports

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 11, 2012 12:36 PM
Austria threatens to veto EU budget: reports

BERLIN (Reuters) - Austria's Deputy Chancellor has threatened that the country will veto a deal on the European Union's long-term budget if it does not get its rebate or if subsidies for agricultural development are cut.

Austria is the latest EU member to threaten to veto the deal ahead of a November 22-23 EU summit to discuss the bloc's 1 trillion euro spending plan for 2014-2020. Hopes for a swift deal at the meeting have already been dented after talks on the 2013 budget collapsed in acrimony on Friday.

Austria's Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger, a member of the conservative People's Party, told Austrian broadcaster ORF that if these conditions were not met, "then there is no agreement from Austria and therefore a veto".

Separately, Chancellor Werner Faymann of the coalition partners the Social Democrats warned Austria would not be a pushover in negotiations just because of its small size.

"I have always said: ‘we will not allow ourselves to be blackmailed,'" Faymann told Die Presse. "Great Britain is no more important than Austria. No one should have a special relationship in the EU budget."

British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened to veto the EU's seven-year budget, attacking the plans as "ludicrous". The British parliament has voted for a real-terms cut in the budget.

Spindelegger did not exclude however that Austria would have to pay more to the budget, while Faymann went one step further saying all countries with strong economies would have to pay more.

"One cannot have a low unemployment rate and great economic data, without it having consequences on payments," he said. "We have to reckon, that it will be more expensive and not cheaper."

He added that Austria would be prepared to give up its rebate but only if all other countries did so, in order to create a fund for stimulating economic growth throughout the EU.

"We want a fund for the training of skilled workers," he said. "If all former rebates went into that, we could get a million young people off the streets and finance their training."

(Reporting By Sarah Marsh; Editing by Susan Fenton)