EU approves 2007-2013 spending plan

May 17 | Updated: May 18 2006, 05:30am hrs
The European Union approved a spending plan for 2007-2013, ending two years of wrangling over the cost of admitting ex-communist nations in eastern Europe.

The European Parliament endorsed a seven-year budget of 864 billion euros ($1.1 trillion), retreating from earlier demands for as much as 975 billion euros. EU nations struck an 862 billion-euro deal in December and offered an extra 2 billion euros last month to win over the Parliament. Its the only possible compromise, Jean-Luc Dehaene, a Belgian member of the European Peoples Party, the 25-nation EU Parliaments biggest group, told the assembly on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France. Given the needs of the new member states, it would have been wrong to block funds. National governments finance 70% of the EU budget and their Dec. 17 accord ended bickering among themselves tied to the blocs biggest-ever expansion.