EU crisis: Spanish PM locks horns with Brussels over budget – ‘Highly disappointing!’

Pedro Sanchez said the president of the European Council had presented a package “worse than the previous proposal” as he slammed the measures set to be discussed by leaders at a two-day summit in Brussels. Mr Michel has made it his mission to get European leaders to agree on a joint seven-year budget from 2021 and to work out how to fill a €75 billion euro (£62.8 million) hole left by Britain’s departure on January 31.

The bloc is also faced with costly climate, migration and development challenges.

Speaking to reporters as he arrived in Brussels for the meeting, Mr Sanchez hit out Mr Michel’s proposals, saying they do not address the challenges faced by the agricultural sector.

Mr Sanchez said: “The proposal presented by Charles Michel is highly disappointing and without a doubt we do not share many of the aspects of that proposal.

“It is worse than the previous proposal, not only for Spain, but for the EU.

“It reduces important policies for Spain such as cohesion policies or the agricultural policy and it does not resolve the issue of the EU’s own resources.

“In short, a lot remains to be done.”

He went on to warn Mr Michel a quick solution could not be found to the complex issues on the table and predicted talks could last days or even weeks.

“We are going to deal with a very complex negotiation that seems long,” added Mr Sanchez.

“It will take not only today, but also days and even weeks. I insist that the starting point is highly disappointing, and not only for Spain, but for the EU.”

Mr Sanchez’s strong words come as farmers in his country are revolting against dwindling prices and the impact of Brexit on their industry.

In recent days, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to demand action from the government.

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They aimed to draw awareness to the falling incomes of those working in Spain’s agricultural sector.

They fear the UK’s departure from the EU could mean less financial support from Brussels.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) makes up almost one-third of their overall income.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her team arrived at the summit “with great determination to find a solution” but warned “we cannot say now whether we will succeed”.

She said Germany should not have to suffer because of uneven burdens for net contributors to the EU common pot.

“Germany is not content with the current state of negotiations because we believe that among the net contributors the right balance has not been struck,” said Mrs Merkel.

“It is clear that for the convergence and agriculture in European Union it will mean more money from the German side…but this must be shared fairly among the net contributors.”

Speaking ahead of the “Special EU Summit” to thrash out the budget, Mr Michel thanked European leaders for their “hard work” over recent weeks to find a solution to many concerns.

He said: “There are many interests, there are many concerns.

“They are all legitimate but I’m convinced it’s possible to make progress in the next hours and the next days. Everything is on the table to be able to decide.”

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