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EU split on €5 bln infrastructure plan

  A group of European Union countries led by Germany opposed on Tuesday plans to spend €5 billion ($6.48 billion) of unused EU funds on energy links and the Internet.

Diplomats and officials said the plan, spearheaded by the executive European Commission, would probably go before national leaders at a long-scheduled summit in March to try and reach agreement on moves aimed at stimulating the economy. “The issue will be discussed further, probably it will go to the summit,” a Commission official said, after EU finance ministers debated the project on Tuesday.

The Commission wants the money to be used to finance new energy links and broadband Internet access in the 27-nation EU as part of the bloc’s plan to fight the economic downturn.

But diplomats said Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden prefer unused funds from the EU’s €120-billion-annual budget to return to national coffers. One diplomat said Poland on Tuesday dropped its opposition to the project. (Reuters)