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EU Leaders Focus on Climate, Budget    10/18 06:08

   BRUSSELS (AP) -- After agreeing on terms for a new Brexit deal, European 
Union leaders are meeting again on Friday to discuss other thorny issues, 
including the bloc's budget and climate change.

   No decision is expected on the next long-term budget for 2021-2027, though, 
a topic more divisive than Brexit.

   Leaders need to find a compromise that satisfies countries in favor of 
minimal spending, those arguing that it must at least be maintained at the 
current level and others fighting for increased contributions from members 
states to compensate for Britain's planned departure.

   The Finnish presidency of the council is expected to present a draft 
including a proposal on the overall level of financing. A top French diplomat 
said the draft will be contested, insisting it's crucial to keep a high level 
of funding in order to maintain the same level for agriculture and increase 
money for climate, innovation and migrations issues.

   Some other big net contributors, including Germany, disagree and are trying 
to limit spending from 2021.

   The diplomat, who was not authorized to be identified publicly, said that to 
keep the next budget at its current level, member states will need to 
contribute at least 1.16% of their gross national income. The European 
Commission has set an objective of 1.11% for an overall budget of 1.113 
trillion euros, while the European Parliament has proposed 1.30%.

   In the wake of the United Nations' climate change summit, the Council will 
continue talks on its goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 and leaders will 
also discuss the agenda of priorities set up by incoming European Commission 
president Ursula von der Leyen.

   In June, EU leaders failed to agree on a plan to make the bloc's economy 
carbon neutral by 2050. Several large European countries --- including Britain, 
France and Germany --- have backed the target, but coal-reliant countries in 
the east, such as Poland, blocked consensus on the proposal, which entails an 
almost complete phase-out of fossil fuel use.

   Meanwhile, after winning the support of European Union leaders for his new 
Brexit deal, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has returned to London to try 
to secure backing from his fractious Parliament.

   Johnson will now need to convince lawmakers who rejected the previous deal 
sealed by his predecessor Theresa May three times to vote for the divorce deal 
he negotiated.

   "We all hope that what we decided yesterday will also be accepted in 
Westminster," Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said.


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