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EU Budget Cuts Must Avoid Hurting New Members: Slovak PM

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Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union must evenly distribute spending cuts in its proposed seven-year budget to avoid disproportionately affecting cohesion programs for new members, Slovak Premier Robert Fico said.

“We understand that there must be some cuts,” Fico told lawmakers today in Bratislava, the capital. “We are worried that they will happen at the expense of reducing regional differences” through cohesion funds to poorer member states.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels this week to debate the 2014-2020 spending plan amid a row between net recipients of the bloc’s aid and net contributors, who seek a leaner budget. The latest compromise to be discussed includes 74 billion euros ($95 billion) in cuts from the European Commission’s original proposal for a budget of about 1 trillion euros, Fico said.

Slovakia, which uses EU funds to finance three-quarters of its public-investment projects, opposes allotting most of the planned savings, as much as 29.5 billion euros, to cuts in aid for less developed regions, Fico said. The country will also push for a faster reduction of the gap between direct payments to farmers in western and eastern EU states and will demand more resources for shutting down nuclear plants, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Radoslav Tomek in Bratislava at rtomek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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