Siobhán Talbot and Aidan Brady are alumni of the year for 2014
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Pictured: President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy
European Union leaders have reached a deal on the seven-year EU budget, the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy confirmed this afternoon.
"Deal done," he said in a message on Twitter. "European Council has agreed on MFF (Multi-annual Financial Framework) for the rest of the decade. Worth waiting for."
After 24 hours of tough negotiations, the agreement is that spending for 2014/2020 would be €908bn, €24 billion lower than during the last seven-year period - the first decrease in a budget in the EU's history.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore TD has welcomed the agreement.
The Irish EU presidency will now take forward the process with the European Parliament to obtain its consent for the budget package.
"These have been long and difficult negotiations but we have reached what Ireland considers a fair agreement for all," said the Tánaiste.
"In particular I welcome the €6bn allocation that has been earmarked within the budget for a Youth Employment Initiative, which will tackle the pressing problem of youth unemployment. There is full expectation that Ireland will be one of the member states that will benefit from this initiative.
"This is a good day for Europe. But we have work to do now. Gaining the support of the European Parliament is the next critical step. As chair of the EU General Affairs Council I will now begin that process.
"The Irish presidency, on behalf of the Council, will work to secure the consent of the Parliament to see this budget adopted quickly and implemented and I will be intensifying our contacts with the Parliament to achieve this."