07 December, 2005
Greece on Tuesday opposed a proposal by the United Kingdom for the European Union's 2007-2013 budget.
"The proposal is incompatible with Greece's position," Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said after a meeting in the Belgian capital of his EU counterparts. Britain holds the bloc's rotating presidency.
"At the same time, there is leeway for improvement in negotiations that are to be held in coming days," Alogoskoufis noted.
At an EU summit in June, Greece backed a compromise by Luxembourg, the bloc's former rotating president, which it saw offering a fairer distribution of the cost of EU enlargement.
Britain's proposal calls for a slimmed-down, long-term budget that cuts 24 billion euros from a spending level proposed by Luxembourg, most of it taken from regional aid to east European countries.
The EU's 25 members aim to reach a deal on the budget at a summit on Dec 15 and 16.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told reporters that Greece was studying the British budget package, forging alliances in what he called "tough, painful" negotiations among the EU's 25 members.
"The final outcome cannot be determined yet," Valinakis said.
He noted that Greece's had two aims: the attainment of a final agreement that would show the EU was capable of taking major decisions; and a drive to obtain an increase in funding "down to the last euro" to aid Greek growth.
Valinakis is to represent Greece at a working dinner for 20 EU members known as "friends of cohesion" ahead of a finance ministers' meeting on Wednesday that is expected to bring the first official statement by the bloc's members on the UK budget deal.
Source: Athens News Agency