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EU approves Euro 70 bln in rural development funds

The EU's agriculture ministers have approved Euro 70 billion rural development funding for the next budget period between 2007 and 2013. The total amount of rural development subsidies has been significantly reduced from the initial proposal of Euro 89 billion at December's EU summit as part of cost-cutting efforts. The funds will be distributed among the current 25 EU member states, Romania and Bulgaria with regard to the latter's impending EU membership in 2007 or 2008. The regions entitled to development subsidies on the basis of the European convergence plan are to receive a combined amount of Euro 27.7 billion. The allocation of funds among the 27 countries is open to further debate. (Vg 4)