Left Menu
Development News Edition

EU leaders clash over budget at stormy summit

PTI | Brussels | Updated: 21-02-2020 02:02 IST | Created: 21-02-2020 01:51 IST
EU leaders clash over budget at stormy summit
Representative image Image Credit: Freepik

EU leaders clashed Thursday at a stormy summit to decide the bloc's seven-year budget after Brexit, with bitter divisions between penny-pinching rich nations, poorer ones wanting to preserve spending and others wanting to fund grand global ambitions. The tussle for money is a Brussels ritual but is especially problematic this time around because of Britain's departure from the EU.

The "Brexit gap" caused by the loss of the UK's contribution is 75 billion euros (USD 81 billion) over the 2021-2027 period, but French President Emmanuel Macron insisted this must not mean the EU should trim its ambitions by cutting spending. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned there were "major differences" to overcome among the 27 countries, as some officials braced for talks to drag into the weekend.

"We are not satisfied with the current situation because the balance within the net payers has not yet been properly negotiated," Merkel said as she arrived. Summit host Charles Michel, the EU Council president, kicked off the day with one-on-one meetings with leaders of the 27 states starting with Sweden, one of the so-called "frugal four" opposed to big budget increases.

"I am convinced that it will be possible to make progress in the next hours or in the next days," Michel told reporters. Once gathered, an EU source said leaders "respectfully" shared their well-known views, making plain the deep divisions and the hard work needed to forge a deal.

Some EU sources suggested differences are so great the summit could end earlier than thought and the can kicked down the road to another summit -- or two -- in the coming months. Macron, who wants farm payments protected and more money for European defense projects, said he was ready for the long haul.

"I will take all the time that is needed to get an ambitious agreement that defends the interests I represent," he said, insisting that with "a spirit of compromise and ambition" a deal could be found. He added it would be "unacceptable for Europe to compensate for the British departure by reducing its means".

But Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin slapped down the French leader's call for post-Brexit largesse, saying the EU had to be "realistic" following the departure of one of its biggest net contributors. The minimum spending in the multi-annual financial framework (MFF), as the long-term budget is called, is just over one trillion euros.

The discord is over how much this budget should increase by, how spending might be shifted between priorities and how much each member state should pay as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP). Another touchy issue is whether budget rebates pocketed by a few wealthier countries should still exist.

The last MFF came in at 1.08 trillion euros (in 2018 prices). The "frugal four" -- Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden -- want to rein in the budget and make up only some of the ground of the Brexit gap. They also want to keep their rebates, as does Germany.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz struck a tough note on Twitter, insisting Vienna's budget contributions must not "grow immeasurably" and rejecting a compromise proposed by Michel. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted a picture of himself and the other "frugals" insisting for lower spending, while adding that he had come to Brussels with some leisurely reading, confident that his position would not budge.

At the high end of spending, demands are the European Parliament, which wants the MFF to expand to 1.32 trillion euros to pay for costly goals such as turning the European Union into a carbon-neutral economy within three decades. A "friends of cohesion" group of mostly eastern and southern EU nations wants to ringfence money it gets to help bring infrastructure and society up to the level of wealthier counterparts.

Agriculturally sensitive countries such as France, Spain, and Poland are also looking to preserve farmers' subsidies. The European Commission, which aims for a "geopolitical" mantle under President Ursula von der Leyen, is trying for a target of 1.13 trillion euros.

Ahead of the summit, Michel proposed an MFF of 1.09 trillion euros, making cuts to cohesion funds and farm subsidies to finance other priority areas. His plan, though, has little support.

The European Parliament has rejected it as too little. Germany says it is a "step backward" and Spain has criticized it for "not recognizing the role of agriculture" in EU cohesion. "The proposal is unacceptable, it's a series of cuts," European Parliament President David Sassoli told reporters after making his case to leaders.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Public health care post-COVID 19 to go for revamping, not rebooting

Until now, the economies used to classify healthcare sector under social expenditure. However, the devastation caused by COVID 19 pandemic has upgraded public healthcare on topmost priority and core economic activity for controlling future ...

Coronavirus lockdowns to speed up long-pending revamping of supply chains

With millions of production lines impacted, business disruptions to some extent are unavoidable and the lessons learned from this turbulence will leave an everlasting impact on both global and local levels of supply chains....

COVID 19 to catalyze the redefinition of urban planning and sustainability

Until now the urban planning was focused on mitigation to natural disastrous, climate change, pollution, chronic illness and lifestyle diseases. However, the global pandemic of novel coronavirus is going to change the whole narrative of urb...

Ebola to COVID 19: Has Geopolitics prevailed over Professionalism in WHO

World Health Organization WHO is perceived as one of the most professional bodies of the United Nations. However, the role of WHO has come under question in handling outbreak two deadly diseases Ebola Viral Disease EVD and novel Coronaviru...

Videos

Latest News

PM seeks nation's forgiveness for tough decisions, says India will surely defeat coronavirus

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday sought the nations forgiveness for imposing a monumental lockdown on the country, but said we have to win ... and we will definitely win the battle against the unprecedented menace of coronavirus that...

SpiceJet pilot tests positive for COVID-19

SpiceJet said on Sunday that one of its pilots who did not fly any international flight in March has tested positive for the coronavirus. One of our colleagues, a first officer with SpiceJet, has tested positive for COVID-19. The test repor...

Three more COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, count rises to 58

Three more COVID-19 cases have been reported from Gujarat, state Health and Family Welfare Department said. The total positive cases in Gujarat now stands at 58.Earlier, A 45-year-old COVID-19 patient died in Ahmedabad on Sunday.The total c...

'All My Children' star John Callahan dies at 66

Longtime soap opera star John Callahan, best known for All My Children, has passed away at the age of 66. Callahan died on Saturday morning after suffering a stroke at his Palm Springs, California home on Friday, reported Variety.Eva La Rue...

Give Feedback