EU Countries Agree on Financial Framework

From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report in Special English.European Union countries have struggled to find common ground as they tried to work out a budget agreement in Belgium. But this month, they agreed on the European Union’s multiannual financial framework, or MMF, for the period from 2014 to 2020. The MMF sets the EU’s yearly spending at about .3 trillion. That is one percent of the income of the EU.Members agreed to reduce total spending by more than three percent for the period. This is the first time that members have accepted cutting costs. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy spoke after the agreement was announced. He said the compromise budget might not be perfect. But, he said, it should help all EU members.German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the long-term spending plan. She said the agreement makes policy more predictable and enables members to act in Europe’s interest. Some EU leaders have been calling for greater spending controls in their home countries. They wanted the EU to show that it too is willing to cut costs.British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the agreement. Before the two-day meeting in Brussels, he had threatened to veto the budget, if there were no steps toward reducing spending. But the agreement still might not succeed. The European parliament must approve the measure. And some members of the parliament say it fails to deal with many problems like the sharp differences in wealth between rich and poor people. If the measure is approved, it will affect 28 European Union countries. The EU says Croatia is expected to join the group in July.For VOA Learning English, I’m Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 22Feb2013)

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