Albanian Daily News - Nov 22

EU Fails to Resolve Differences Over Kosovo Aid

Albanian Economic Tribune

BRUSSELS - European Union governments and the European Parliament will try again next week to resolve differences over funding for Kosovo which could delay approval of next year’s EU budget.

An EU spokesman said representatives of the Council, the EU’s main decision-making authority, the executive European Commission and the Parliament had failed to reach agreement on Thursday at a meeting in Strasbourg.

The EU has said it will set aside about 500 million euros ($515.5 million) next year to help rebuild Kosovo. The Council wants the money raised by making spending cuts in other areas, but the parliament wants additional funds made available.

On Thursday the parliament refused to accept a compromise proposed by the Commission and the parties will meet again in Brussels next Thursday.

"We will have to work hard in the next few days before the meeting to try to find a solution," a spokesman for the EU’s Finnish presidency said.

The parliament could delay approval of the 92 billion euro budget if it dug its heels in. It passed the overall budget in its first reading last month but left a question mark over funding of Kosovo reconstruction.

The presidency spokesman said he hoped a compromise could be found, even if it meant meeting late into the night on Thursday. "I’m optimistic concerning the possibilities of finding a solution during the night," he said.

The EU vowed to play a major role in the reconstruction of Kosovo. International donors pledged more than $1 billion in aid over the next year at a meeting in Brussels this week.

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