Monday

6th Apr 2020

EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

  • Budget commissioner Johannes Hahn and Croatia's state secretary for EU affairs, Andreja Metelko-Zgombic after the meeting

EU affairs ministers entered the final phase of negotiations on the bloc's seven-year budget on Monday (17 February), ahead of a special summit on the issue on Thursday.

But opposing positions among member states that want to cap EU spending at one percent of Europe's gross national income and those arguing for a higher overall budget have remained unchanged.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The new negotiating box presented by [EU council president] Charles Michel can serve as a basis for further discussions," budget commissioner Johannes Hahn said after the meeting.

"It is clear that the negotiating box is a compromise trying to converge member states' divergent positions, so it is a step into the right direction," he said of Michel's proposal.

He added that the proposal will make it difficult to fulfil the EU's ambitions due to deep cuts in the digital policy and external affairs areas, however.

He also said cuts in administration make it "close to impossible for all European public services to deliver".

He warned against a delay in agreement among member states, saying EU projects will be at risk if no deal is done.

"All member states have to move a bit, so that everyone can win a lot," he said.

Michel's proposal put the overall spending at 1.074 percent of GNI over seven years.

However, that is still too high for some of the net contributors to the budget, especially the so-called frugal four - the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden.

"The overall level is still too high," Finland's EU affairs minister Tytti Tuppurainen also said upon arriving at the meeting.

Rebate debate

France's EU affairs minister, Amélie de Montchalin, whose country wants to see more money dedicated to new EU priorities and to maintain agricultural funding levels, said member states had to act responsibly.

She also said rebates, a refund system initially set up for the UK, but also benefitting the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Germany, and Denmark, would have to go.

"France is a net contributor, we bring to the budget more than we receive, but we want to pay for Europeans, for concrete projects, for tangible benefits," she said, adding that France did not want an agreement at any cost.

The frugal states have said they want to hold onto the rebates permanently.

Meanwhile, Germany's finance minister Olaf Scholz, who was present at another meeting in Brussels, said Michel's proposal was a "step backwards", adding there were "far too few modern policies".

EU officials are now preparing for a long summit on Thursday that could drag on into Friday.

"If nobody is satisfied, it is probably a good compromise ... if everybody was critical this indicates he [Michel] found a good middle ground for the beginning of the negotiations," Hahn said after the EU affairs ministers' discussion.

Net payer countries push back on EU budget plans

As EU budget negotiations enter a nasty phase, EU council chief Charles Michel tries to please two divided groups of member states, but Austria's Sebastian Kurz has warned net payers cannot be pushed for more.

Von der Leyen warns on EU budget cuts

The new EU Commission president will tell EU leaders next week that they need to put money behind their pledges for border protection, defence policy and fighting climate change.

The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

As EU leaders gather on Friday to start discussing the future of the EU's spending after the UK leaves, major battle lines are already emerging among member states. Here is a look at the key issues.

Unhappy EU leaders begin budget haggle

EU leaders arriving at the Brussels summit criticised the budget proposal of EU Council president Charles Michel, as richer member states insisted holding onto their rebates, while poorer countries wanted to avoid deep cuts to their subsidies.

News in Brief

  1. Polish deputy PM resigns over May election date
  2. Spain plans to introduce universal basic income
  3. EPP calls for EU data centre for pandemic response
  4. Three arrested in deadly French 'terror' attack
  5. Greece quarantines two migrant camps
  6. UK premier Johnson hospitalised with coronavirus
  7. Libya's former revolutionary Jibril dies of corona
  8. EU waives customs duties, VAT on vital medical imports

Coronavirus

ECB promises (almost) whatever it takes

The eurozone's central bank has promised to buy up to €750bn of government and private bonds in new pandemic counter-measures.

Opinion

What does coronavirus 'Black Swan' mean for markets?

Falling demand and prices for oil and raw materials will revive the risk of deflation. The collapse in international trade and long-term rethinking of China's role as the major hub for the production of consumer goods and electronics is inevitable.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Coronabonds clash continues This WEEK
  2. EU depicts Africa's health system as a threat
  3. Greenland watches ... and waits for virus
  4. Coronavirus exposes lack of common data approach
  5. Virus recovery talks should ditch old taboos: EU's Vestager
  6. EU's 'Irini' Libya mission: Europe's Operation Cassandra
  7. Slovak army deployed to quarantine Roma settlements
  8. Lockdown: EU officials lobbied via WhatsApp and Skype

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us