Reinfeldt: no drama in EU budget talks breakdown

Reinfeldt: no drama in EU budget talks breakdown
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt downplayed the drama of the collapse of EU budget talks on Friday, hinting that a delay may end up benefiting Sweden's position.

Earlier in the day, the talks had been described as “frustrating” from the Swedish side, when Swedish officials realized that their views on the EU’s long-term budget, which covers 2014-20 spending, had been ignored.

Sweden, along with the UK and other countries concerned about profligate EU spending, were unable to reach an agreement with poorer member states which are more dependent on financial support from Brussels.

British Prime Minister David Cameron accused EU members fighting against budget cuts of living in a “parallel universe”.

But when word emerged on Friday afternoon that the talks had broken down altogether, Reinfeldt remained circumspect.

“There’s no major drama in this, things like this take time,” he told the TT news agency.

“It’s useful for our position to have this take time. For me it’s important to not have a feeling that we are in a hurry to reach an agreement.”

Reinfeldt explained that the budget wouldn’t come into force until 2014, meaning there is still time for a new meeting among EU leaders, which has tentatively been planned for February.

The prime minister also refused to divulge his views on whose fault it may have been that the talks broke down.

“There are sizeable expectations about spending out there in Europe and then there are a few sitting there saying that we need to slow down; that we need to be more cautious,” he said.

Reinfeldt explained that negotiations over Sweden’s EU rebate never had a chance to start, confirming that Sweden, the UK, and a few other countries had demanded lower spending, but refusing to go into exact figures.

On Thursday, Reinfeldt signalled Sweden was prepared to accept a hike in the fees Sweden pays into the EU, as the country’s finances are more robust than many of its European neighbours.

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