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EU Summit: Gonzi cautiously optimistic as negotiations continue

Updated 10.45 p.m.

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said this evening that Malta continues to be optimistic that it will achieve a good deal in EU Budget talks despite increasing calls for further cuts.

Speaking to timesofmalta.com during a break in an EU summit meeting  Dr Gonzi said that Malta’s team of negotiators, led by EU Permanent Representative Marlene Bonnici, was examining the minute details of the latest proposals put on the table.

“It seems that we will have a long night of negotiations. However, the atmosphere seems to be more positive than in November.”

Dr Gonzi arrives in Brussels for the EU summit meeting.Dr Gonzi arrives in Brussels for the EU summit meeting.

Sources close to the meeting said that Council President Herman Van Rompuy proposed a further €45 billion cut in the seven-year budget putting the overall figure down to €912 billion.

Although under existing EU rules, Malta was eligible for about €480 million in structural and cohesion funds between 2014 and 2020, it had managed to increase the allocation to €680 million after the EU accepted its arguments for compensation due to its particular position as an island member state suffering from a statistical effect through the membership of Bulgaria and Romania, which brought down the figures of the EU's average GDP, on which the budget allocations are based.

Member states are divided in two groups, with the net contributors arguing for further cuts in order to reflect the austerity measures they are taking at home due to the ongoing economic recession and the net beneficiaries like Malta who want to preserve a good level of financing so that their economies continue to come closer to the EU average.

The summit is expected to close tomorrow.

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