Negotiations on the long-term budget of the European Union came to the heart of the matter with the proposal of the President of the European Council Charles Michel unveiled Friday, which augurs for a summit of confrontation between the 27 next Thursday.
Still delicate, discussions on the “multi-year financial framework” which fixes a long-term budgetary ceiling are further complicated by the departure of the United Kingdom, which was the second largest contributor to European spending.
To reach a compromise between the northern countries which defend a budget limited to 1% of the EU’s gross national income (GNI) on the one hand, and the defenders of cohesion funds and the common agricultural policy on the other , the former Belgian Prime Minister put on the table a 2021-2027 budget offer at 1.094 billion euros, or 1.074% of the EU’s GNI.
An amount more or less similar to the proposal at the end of 2019 of Finland who then held the presidency of the Union, and had aroused all-out criticism.
Departure from the United Kingdom: a loss of 75 billion euros over seven years
Charles Michel has consulted all European leaders in recent weeks and convened an extraordinary summit on Thursday to try to reconcile positions on a budget that requires the unanimity of the 27.
Leaving the UK on January 31 represents a loss of € 75 billion over seven years, according to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. A sum which must be partially offset by the other states, in particular Germany.
The chief executive of the European executive called on Wednesday for the rapid adoption of a budget sufficient to finance its priorities, claiming that “at least 25%” be devoted to the fight against climate change.
Additional investments for climate and digital
In order to mobilize 500 billion euros of additional investments for the climate and the digital, the two priorities of the Commission, the President of the Council recommends to increase the capital of the European Investment Bank by 100 billion to increase its capacities ready.
But Charles Michel’s draft budget is far below that of the Commission, which targeted 1.114% of GNI (1.134 billion euros at constant 2018 prices). And even more than that of Parliament, which claims 1.3%, and must give its consent by a majority vote.
Threat of “veto”
The four main parliamentary groups wrote to Charles Michel on Thursday to threaten to veto a budget that would not be “strong and credible” – but without mentioning a figure – arguing for the introduction of new “own resources” for the EU, that is to say European taxes.
The head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, demanded Thursday “the funds necessary for the agricultural and cohesion policies” (aid to the less favored regions), “while making it possible to finance the new priorities” (security, migration, digital, climate ).
French President Emmanuel Macron warned in early February that “Europe with a budget of around 1% (…) has no real policy”.
France, second net contributor and first beneficiary of the CAP
France, which will be the second net contributor behind Germany, is the main beneficiary of the common agricultural policy and supports an unchanged amount of the CAP.
A position distant from that of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who met Friday in Paris Emmanuel Macron and whose country is among the so-called “frugal” countries (with Austria, Denmark, Sweden) which defend a budget limited to 1%.
“As one of the biggest net contributors, the Netherlands considers that the EU must control its spending,” he tweeted after his meeting at the Elysee.
Germany has so far defended this 1% line while saying it is ready to go further under certain conditions.
These countries believe that the part they have to pay to compensate for the departure from the United Kingdom is too large, and want to protect at all costs their “discounts”, a correction mechanism to recover money.
Opposite, the “friends of cohesion”, fifteen countries from southern, central and eastern Europe, are worried about the cuts announced in the so-called traditional policies from which their countries are beneficiaries.