EU parliament head calls for deal on 2013 budget deficit

EU member states must cover a 16-17 billion euros shortfall in this year's budget before talking about approval for their hotly contested 2014-20 spending plans, European Parliament head Martin Schulz warned Thursday.

The 2013 budget shows a deficit of 16 to 17 billion euros and "deficits are forbidden at the EU level, Schulz said in Dublin at a press conference with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

Covering this deficit has to come first, he said, as it is about "paying the bills" for projects already agreed.

The European Commission is expected to present an adjusted 2013 budget to cover the deficit just as talks begin between the EU's 27 member states and Parliament on the 2014-20 budget accord that leaders reached with only great difficulty earlier this month.

The Multiannual Financial Framework deal includes a 3.0-percent spending cut, the first ever such reduction, and Schulz has already warned that Parliament will not approve it in its current form.

Schulz said that sorting out the 2013 budget deficit would provide a good starting point for the talks on the MFF since it would demonstrate member state willingness to compromise.

Parliament "is not satisfied with this proposal," he said, adding that MEPs are expected to approve a resolution on March 13 expressing their opposition.

A formal full vote in Parliament is scheduled for July.

There is "a lot to discuss," Schulz told Kenny who will be charge of negotiations on the MFF with Parliament in the run-up to the vote since Ireland currently holds the EU rotating six-month presidency.