Rome, November 22 - Agriculture Minister Mario Catania said Italy preferred to have no deal at all on the European Union's budget rather than a bad deal before the start of a Brussels summit on the issue later on Thursday. "We'll either have a good agreement for Italy or there will be no agreement," said Catania, who is set to flank Premier Mario Monti at the summit on the European Commission's one-trillion-euro seven-year budget plan for the 2014-20 period, which represents a 5% increase. Some countries, including Britain, Germany and Sweden, are demanding cuts of as much as 200 billion euros to the EC's plan. Britain, which also wants the EU budget for 2013 to be frozen at 2011 levels rather than increased by 6.8%, has threatened to veto a deal if there are no cuts. However, Rome is opposed to spending reductions and has also threatened to use the veto if it does not view the budget as fair. "We need a fair solution that protects Italian taxpayers because there must be the right balance between what Italy contributes to the EU budget and what it receives," added Catania. "But there must also be proper protection for our farmers. The negotiations will be very tough, not just about agriculture, but about everything and the premier is totally aware of this".
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di Giovanni Pastore