Thursday

28th Jan 2021

Sassoli repeats EU budget rejection warning

  • European Parliament president David Sassoli: 'The proposal that has been put forward, we won't accept it, that is very clear' (Photo: European Union)

European Parliament president David Sassoli has said the figure proposed by member states for the future EU budget is a non-starter.

His comments follow a pattern of similar ultimatums issued by his predecessor Martin Schulz on the previous budget, who in 2013 eventually relented in last-minute talks.

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But it is significant because the EU parliament needs to approve the budget EU leaders agree on.

Asked on Thursday (20 February) what makes his position any different than Schulz, Sassoli stroke a defiant tone.

"Is it the same parliament? Do you think it is the same parliament as before. You think so?," he told reporters in Brussels at an EU summit, where leaders are crunching numbers for the EU's next seven-year budget cycle, stretching from 2021-2027.

"This is a parliament which is not going to give up on its own prerogatives," he said, noting that all the political parties in the assembly are on the same page.

He described as a "myth" that money put into the EU budget is somehow lost.

"If you look at the data, if you look at what it means - pooling money in the European budget and what returns you get as a member state - that myth has to go," he said.

Defiance

Sassoli's defiant stance risks an uphill battle, given a €230bn gap between the proposal put forward by European Council president Charles Michel and the parliament's own plan.

The whole seven-year budget amounts to around €1 trillion or about one percent of the gross national income of the 27 nations combined. The EU budget is significantly smaller than most national counterparts.

But the parliament wants to increase it to 1.3 percent of the EU's gross national income, or GNI. The European Commission proposed 1.11 percent and Michel put forward 1.074 percent.

Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands - want the budget to be kept at no higher than 1.0 percent of EU GNI.

Sassoli warned that those seemingly small percentage differences would mean cuts in agriculture, and other spending areas for poorer regions.

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