It took a delayed summit, overnight negotiations and numerous discussions in which national interests overshadowed all other considerations but the 27 heads of State and government have found a compromise agreement over the EU budget for 2014-2020.

This summit can be summed up as "bartering and bargain-hunting," says Dutch daily Trouw. The pressure to reach consensus is high, the paper says, but the leaders are concerned about the explanations they will have to furnish back home:

Cover

They want to find a common accord because the credibility of the Union is at stake. In addition, this long-term budget is a necessary condition for investment in infrastructure and research projects. Every one fears this is the last chance before 2014. Between now and then, there will have been [legislative] elections in Italy and the United Kingdom as well as a [local ballot] in Germany. The leaders do not want to have to admit back home that they gave up too much during the horse-trading.

Given the context, in order to "end their budgetary quarrel, Europeans decided to make a subtle difference between spending commitments and actual disbursement," explains French daily Le Monde

Cover

Europeans are distinguishing more than ever between commitment appropriations [legal pledges to provide finance, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled] – reduced to €960bn – and payment appropriations [bank transfers to the beneficiaries] totallying €908.4bn. This time, the gap [...] is taking on exceptional proportions. And, for the first time in the history of European construction, both are below the level of the 2007-2013 period.

The result of the summit could well be "a victory for the United Kingdom and for net donors," says Spanish daily El País. The paper calls the compromise presented on February 7 by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, "a creative accounting game" and regretted that –

Cover

the months since the previous summit did not serve to ease positions. On the contrary, everyone is digging in their heels. Pro-European intentions have disappeared and each country is defending its interests tooth and nail.

From Berlin, Die Welt deems the result "not too bad, given the options." Historically hostile to an increase of the EU budget using tax-payer money, Die Welt hails, in particular, slashing at the "dinosaur at the core of EU subsidies," aid to agriculture.

Cover

The decades-old attempt to harmonise quality of life within the EU is now envisaged more as a desire to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs rather than in preserving the entitlements of local politicians.

But to be implemented, warns Le Monde, the compromise must be approved by the European Parliament, which has yet to be convinced:

Cover

Martin Schulz, the president, takes exception with the austerity imposed by [British Prime Minister] David Cameron. He may criticise the large gap between the commitments and the payments agreed. He argues that this system generates a deficit because the actual payments may not find financing in the years to come.