Tunisia: European Parliament Backs Out of EU Budget Talks

Brussels — The European Parliament on Tuesday refused to join talks later in the day between European Union budget ministers on the bloc's 2013 budget, a threat which if carried through will scuttle the talks.

In a statement issued three hours before talks were to start, parliament said it could not join the talks because there was no agreement to deal with a 2012 shortfall depriving Europe's needy of key funds.

Given the Council's inability to solve problems left over from 2012 ... the European parliament cannot pursue budgetary negotiations on the budget for 2013," said a statement from conservative French MEP Alain Lamassoure, who heads the assembly's budget committee.

A spokesman for Cyprus, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said of the negotiations, which were scheduled to begin at 1800 GMT, that "for us the meeting is not lost.

"We are trying to find a way to bring them back to the negotiating table," spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said.

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