Sweden rejects British EU budget proposal

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson on Tuesday rejected Britain's EU budget proposal as too "pro-British" and said it did not go far enough in slashing spending.

“I’m a little surprised that it is set up as pro-British as it is. I doubt that this budget proposal could be accepted in negotiations, but perhaps it should be seen as a preliminary proposal,” Persson told journalists in Stockholm.

The British proposal has drawn widespread criticism for seeking to cut funding to the European Union’s poorer new member states.

The 25-nation bloc is battling to find a compromise at a December 15-16 summit.

Sweden was one of five EU member states, along with Britain, Finland, the Netherlands and Spain, which rejected Luxembourg’s EU 2007-2013 budget proposal in June, when the Scandinavian country called for a spending ceiling of one percent of the EU’s gross national income.

The British proposal “is not a good proposal, but it’s headed in the right direction when it comes to the overall level. The budget is shrinking all the time and that is one of our main demands,” Persson said.

Sweden, one of just a handful of net contributors to the EU budget, stands to gain from the British proposal, which offered the Scandinavian country an annual rebate of 105 million euros.

But Persson stressed that the EU as a whole needed a better budget deal.

“Yes, we gain a little bit, but that is not enough,” he said.

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