EU budget ministers have voted to hold the 2001 food and farming support budget at 43.5 billion euros ($40bn at current dollar exchange rates). This is over 500 million euros less than the European Commission originally proposed. The budget has been based on the assumption that the euro will remain more or less at parity with the dollar. The current rate of $1=1.081 euro means less money is needed for export refunds. The ministers have, however, still agreed a 6.3% increase in EAGGF spending on this year's figure. The current figure is a 3.5% increase on the current budget. The EU still expects spending on agriculture to rise, before falling back to the 42.5bn euro average agreed for the 2000-6 period at the Berlin summit last year. {{PROVISIONS }}