Monday, February 4, 2013

EU leaders scramble to rescue trillion-euro Budget summit

Europe's leaders scrambled on Monday to rescue summit talks on the EU's trillion-euro budget, with Italy and Germany on a collision course over cuts demanded by Britain, and France warning of a breakdown in negotiations.

"The negotiations are very difficult ... the conditions are, at this moment, not yet in place," French President Francois Hollande warned Sunday as European Union leaders prepare to meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

Hollande spoke after tricky talks with electioneering Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Paris, a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a bid to broker a deal on the 27-state EU's spending plans for 2014-20 would be "very difficult".