EU agree to enlarge 2017 budget

EU agree to enlarge 2017 budgetThe European Union reached agreement on Thursday on next year's budget, which will increase government spending to create more jobs and address the migration crisis, Reuters reported.

But Italy abstained, which became the latest sign of Rome's tense relations with Brussels.

The EU states agreed to raise their spending for the 2017 EU budget to 134.4 billion euros ($144.09 billion) from an initial offer of 133.7 billions. Lawmakers and the European Commission, the EU executive arm, had requested more.

The Council of EU states also agreed to raise to 157.8 billion euros next year's commitments to payments that may be incurred later, from an initial pledge of 156.3 billions.

Compared with this year, spending will increase mostly to resettle refugees within Europe and to enhance border control, as the continent grapples with an influx of migrants and asylum seekers from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

More will also be spent to create jobs in countries hit by high unemployment, particularly among the young.

"We have reached our aims. The 2017 budget clearly focuses on our priorities of boosting growth, creating jobs – especially for youngsters – and tackling the migration crisis," said Jens Geier, a German center-left lawmaker who took part to the negotiations.

Less money will be spent next year on the bloc's least developed regions, which are mostly in the East. But that spending is expected to pick up in following years.

However, in an unprecedented move, Italy abstained from the vote, even though the higher spending on migration and youth unemployment is meant to address Rome's woes. The country is on the front lines of the migration crisis and has one of the bloc's highest unemployment rates.
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