EU Tussles Over EU5 Billion Spending Plan, Sends to Summit

European Union foreign ministers remained divided on a 5 billion-euro ($6.5 billion) infrastructure spending package, calling on the bloc’s leaders to settle the issue at a summit later this week.

At a meeting in Brussels today, the 27 ministers bridged some differences over the proposed spending on energy and construction projects, part of the EU’s 200 billion euros in planned anti-recession steps.

“Let’s be realistic: this is small package in comparison to the national packages that we made and in comparison to the package that has been taken in the U.S.,” Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb told reporters. He predicted a deal at the March 19-20 summit of EU leaders.

Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden had opposed using unallocated funds from last year’s budget, while southern European countries had complained that too much of the money will be spent in eastern Europe.

The money would plug gaps in the electricity network, curb carbon emissions, promote offshore wind projects and extend the broadband Internet network into rural areas.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at jneuger@bloomberg.net; Leon Mangasarian in Brussels at lmangasarian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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