EU agrees extra 2013 budget, with caveats

EU finance ministers agreed Tuesday to add 7.3 billion euros to the bloc's 2013 budget, a hotly contested move which was crucially tied to a wider accord on its 2014-20 spending plans.

Ministers "reached a political agreement" on amending the budget, adding the first tranche of what could be a total 11.2 billion euros to cover shortfalls in member state commitments.

This money would be focused on "measures to support economic growth, create jobs and tackle unemployment, especially among youth," a statement said.

Significantly, the measure was agreed without a binding vote and the statement said ministers "stressed the political nature" of the move.

Ministers would only formally adopt this position on the amending budget "at a later stage in parallel with the conclusion of the talks on the EU's Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020" with the European Parliament, it noted.

This link could be crucial. Britain led the charge in MFF negotiations in December to secure a 3.0 percent cut in spending, the first ever for the EU budget and a move bitterly opposed by the European Commission and lawmakers.

London was also hostile to providing any extra money for 2013, dismissing the 11.2 billion euros request in March as "totally unacceptable" at a time when national finances are under so much pressure.

The EU budget for 2013 is based on planned spending of up to 143 billion euros but actual member state contributions were fixed at 132 billion euros, some 5.0 billion euros less than the Commission had asked for.