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EU summit: Fresh financial proposal for Malta 'still unacceptable'

A revised financial package for Malta has been proposed in EU Budget talks at the European Council in Brussels, but Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi told timesofmalta.com last night it was still unacceptable.

The European Commission had originally proposed to slash Malta's financial allocation by some €300 million in view of the economic progress the country had made and pressures to reduce the EU Budget. 

The summit was suspended at half past midnight and will resume at noon today, allowing time for a raft of new proposals to be studied and discussed informally before formal negotiations continue.

Dr Gonzi said the latest figure being proposed for Malta by Council president Herman Van Rompuy meant a slight improvement over previous figures but was still "absolutely unacceptable" for the island, meaning more negotiations are required.

He also said that Malta's slight gains were not yet secured and risked being lost by the morning if other countries continued to insist on cuts in the EU's overall budget.

Dr Gonzi refused to cite the latest figure on the table but said it was better than the other proposals.

Malta obtained €855 million in EU funds for the past seven years but was initially offered €534 million for the next seven years. That figure further deteriorated to €480 million before the summit began.

Several countries, particularly the UK, are insisting on budget cuts to reflect austerity measures being taken back home.

Dr Gonzi said the negotiation process was complicated and an agreement was still far from being reached, with various EU leaders sticking strictly to their positions.

This was the same analysis expressed earlier by European Parliament president Martin Schulz in a press conference.

However, Dr Gonzi recalled a similar situation in 2005 when he took part in the previous budget discussions.

"It is still too early to give up or to be optimistic," he said, adding that although countries were divided, compromises were often found in the EU.

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