Thu Jun 30th, 2005 at 08:34:30 AM EST
Two weeks ago, the European Union failed to agree on a budget. Now it looks like some of the newest members have come up with a solution.
Irritated by what they felt was Britain's "wrecking" of the budget talks, Hungary has tabled an agreement called the "Budapest Compromise" and Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia all seem to be on board:
[Hungarian Foreign Minister Ferenc] Somogyi proposes that, if no agreement is be reached during the British presidency of the EU, which runs from July 1 to the end of the year, a temporary threeyear budget should be worked out under the Austrian presidency which will follow the British.
The Budapest Compromise was necessary because the budgetary disagreements resulted from "genuine differences in principle" between the member states.
The EU would function even without a budget after 2007, but structural funds would be paid to member states according to the previous five-year budget, which was agreed upon before the new members joined. They would thus receive far less.
"It will be difficult to reach a compromise on the budget during the British presidency," Katinka Barysch, chief economist at the Center for European Reform, a London-based thinktank, told The Budapest Sun.
"To broker a compromise you have to be seen as above the arguments, and the UK is widely seen as negotiating for its own national interest."
Whilst it was welcome that the new member states were seeking to contribute to finding a way through, she thought that panic was premature. "The EU budget is rarely agreed upon before spring of the year before it comes into force, so we could easily wait until spring 2006," she said - long after the British presidency.
Looks like "New Europe" is tired of "Old" Europe's constant bickering and want a budget to be passed, and they're willing to outwait the British to do it.