Persson: “good chance” of EU budget deal

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson said on Thursday that there is "a good chance" of an EU budget deal next week, after talks in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Speaking to reporters outside Downing Street, Persson said it would be “a sensation” if leaders of the 25 EU member states were not defending their respective interests on the bloc’s 2007-13 financial perspectives.

“Now we have created a situation (in which it) might be possible to solve (the current impasse), and everyone wants to solve that,” he said. “Therefore there is a good chance to have a deal.”

Blair earlier Thursday began two days of face-to-face talks in London with no fewer than eight fellow EU leaders, plus European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso, on the budget deadlock ahead of an EU summit next week.

Britain set out proposals to break the impasse earlier this week that foresaw less money for the 10 newest EU member states, a slight reduction of its own EU rebate, and a thorough review of EU spending policy in 2008.

The ideas, at the tail end of the British EU presidency, have been rejected by the lion’s share of EU member states, leaving Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to announce on Wednesday that fresh proposals will be made early next week.