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EU parliament seals long-term budget pact

Written by: Staff
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STRASBOURG, France, May 17 (Reuters) The European Parliament overwhelmingly backed a 2007-13 long-term budget for the European Union today, ending a bruising two-year battle over the bloc's future finances.

The EU legislature approved by 440 votes in favour, 110 against and 35 abstentions an agreement with the 25 member states and the European Commission, which was immediately signed into law.

Parliament president Josep Borrell said the 864.4 billion euro (1,115 billion dollars) seven-year budget, just 1 per cent of the EU's gross domestic product, would cost just 26 cents per citizen per day.

''We certainly can't consider that as expensive,'' he said.

In a report adopted today, lawmakers called for an overhaul of the EU's funding system to ''avoid the same painful experience of national bargaining'' for the next budget.

The Commission and the Austrian presidency have said the EU should consider some sort of direct ''Europe tax'' instead of the current opaque mix of customs revenue and national payments when the EU budget undergoes a mid-term review in 2008-09.

Parliament managed to negotiate a 4 billion euro increase in the figure agreed by EU governments under British presidency last December, plus the promise of a bigger say for lawmakers in the mid-term budget review.

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