Friday

23rd Feb 2018

Poland keen for EU to spend its way back to growth

  • The four budget musketeers (Photo: European Commission)

Poland has signalled it will push for a "bold" EU budget in the 2014 to 2020 period in order to boost economic growth amid the financial crisis.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in Brussels on Tuesday (30 August) said his country is a living example that EU funds "spent wisely" can lead to economic growth.

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With a growth rate of 4.3 percent last quarter, Poland has made the best out of the EU regional and farming aid put at its disposal, proving that "good absorption of EU funds" can fuel economic recovery, he added.

"I want to show off a little bit," he said during a press conference in the EU capital with European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso holding up a map of Poland showing the figure 4.3 percent and a smiley.

The Polish politician seemed undeterred by British and German criticism towards the draft budget proposal tabled before the summer recess.

"We know the debate of the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) is not easy. We don't expect the UK to be enthusiastic, British are always sceptical on EU projects, but we want to focus on a positive outcome," Tusk said.

Tusk and Barroso announced that they will hold a high-level conference on the MFF on 20 and 21 October.

The meeting, to be co-chaired by Tusk and the heads of the EU commission and Parliament is aimed to "deal with the whole philosophy of the EU" and fuel a "serious debate" on how to finance key policies such as regional funding, the Prime Minister explained.

He added that an informal meeting of EU affairs ministers in Sopot in July was "unexpectedly" positive - with a large majority of countries in favour of the commission's generous EU budget draft despite British opposition.

For his part, Barroso said that he was not expecting a "unanimous agreement" at this stage, but was encouraged by the initial response from an "overwhelming majority" of member states and the European Parliament.

"Let's make it a good example of European spirit, to have a focused discussion on the MFF not as a discussion on a budget for Brussels, but a budget for all of Europe," he said.

The main point, amid all the austerity measures in member states, is "how we can help growth in Europe" by means of the EU budget, the Portuguese politician noted.

Under the commission blueprint, EU spending would rise to €971.52 billion over the seven-year period, with €1,025 billion pledged in commitments.

This compares with €925.5 billion and €975.77 billion under the current period (2007-2013), although there is little change in terms of the budget as a ratio of EU countries' gross national income (GNI).

One of the most contentious ideas pinned down in the budget draft is to have a series of EU taxes, including one on financial transactions.

Apart from the UK, which is determined "to play hardball" on the budget increase, Germany in June also rejected the EU financial tax idea. "We don't need this tax, the EU has no financing problem," German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said at the time.

MEPs warn Barroso against slashing EU farm budget

MEPs have said they do not support a large-scale reduction in funding for rural development schemes, amid reports that the European Commission may aim to make savings in this area in next week's highly-anticipated multi-annual budget proposals.

Brussels seeks financial tax in new EU budget

Future EU spending is set to increase, focusing marginally less on agriculture and more on research, education and transport, according to European Commission proposals for the next seven-year budgetary period (2014-2020). Brussels also wants a financial transaction tax to help fill EU coffers.

EU backs budget support and 2030 target for renewables

The European Commission has said the EU must establish a binding 2030 target for renewable energy, pledging to include stimulus measures for the industry in its multi-annual budget proposals (post 2013) to be published later this month.

Poland tests meaning of EU oath on neutrality

The Polish government has told voters that its man in Brussels, Janusz Lewandowski, will help it get more EU money, testing the meaning of the budget commissioner's oath of neutrality.

Member states continue budget bickering

EU ministers on Monday did not reach an agreement on the Cypriot presidency’s proposal for the bloc's next seven-year, €1 trillion budget.

Opinion

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

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