The European Union will spend 1.9 billion euros less than previously forecast in its 2002 budget because of savings on agriculture, Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Schreyer told reporters after the Commission approved the amended budget that estimates of farm spending had been revised down from the May draft. There was no longer a need for a one billion euro reserve to cover financial risks from the mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease crises.

She said the 2001 budget would yield a one billion euro surplus, to be carried forward as revenue in 2002, reducing the amount member states have to pay to fund next year's budget.

A Commission statement said savings had been made on arable crops (781 mln euros), dairy products (424 mln), beef (276 mln) and sheepmeat (298 mln). These would be partly offset by increased spending to distill surplus wine into alcohol and on the cotton sector.

The amended 2002 budget calls for commitment appropriations of 98.5 billion euros, compared to 96.97 billion in 2001, and payment appropriations of 95.8 billion next year after 93.75 billion this week.

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