After several weeks of “confessionals”, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, you have the commitment proposal which will serve as a basis for negotiating the new EU budget framework during the summit of heads of state and government which will start on February 20 in Brussels. The plan, presented this Friday at 27 capitals, includes strong cuts in the two main budget items (cohesion and agriculture), higher than 10%, but also winks to some countries by increasing the items for asylum, immigration, border management and defense policy.
The Belgian politician part of a very similar global amount to the one proposed at the end of last year by the Finnish semiannual presidency of the EU and which was rejected. The Helsinki Government put on the table a budget of 1,087 billion euros (1.07% of gross national income), lower than 1.13 billion or 1.11% initially proposed by the European Commission. Michel now raises a framework with 1.094 billion euros -7.5 billion euros more- for the next seven years (1.074% including the European Development Fund) with a slightly different distribution and more “flexibility” with which they hope to limit “dissatisfaction” and achieve a better “balance” in the distribution, European sources have explained.
Even so, the two main budget items have an important scissor on the current accounts at 27: 12% in the case of funds allocated to the cohesion policy (323,200 million in total compared to the current 367,700) and 14% in farming (329,300 million versus 382,500), with discounts of 10% in the case of direct aid and 25% of rural development. These are two key items for Spain and for the countries of “cohesion” and that the “frugal” of the north, which require a budget of 1%, want to cut and modernize.
The same delivery key
In return, Michel proposes a sharp increase in the money dedicated to immigration and especially to the external border management by multiplying by two the border fund (5,500 million) and by three the budget of the Frontex agency (5,100 million). Regarding security and defense, one of the French priorities also advocates allocating 7,000 million to European Defense Fund, while maintaining at 7.5 billion the amount of the new Fair Transition Fund proposed by Brussels to help regions less prepared to face the energy transition. Although the distribution devised by the European Commission, which concentrates the bulk of the funds in Poland, is rejected by countries such as Spain, Michel has chosen to keep the same distribution key.
As expected, the proposal also includes a conditionality clause of funds linked to respect for the rule of law and good governance, which could lead to the adoption of “appropriate and proportionate measures” if deficiencies are detected, and the commitment to allocate 25% of the Union budget to spending that supports the fight against climate change. Another novelty of the plan, with which Michel hopes to convince the countries of northern Europe, is an increase in the capital of the European Investment Bank 10,000 million to increase the loan capacity to support the digital and climate transition and mobilize up to 500,000 million. In addition, the proposal maintains the “checks” They receive five net taxpayers – Denmark, Germany, Holland, Austria and Sweden – to reduce their contribution to the budget but will be reduced over the period.
New resources, nod to the Eurocamara
The endorsement of the European Parliament, which has codecision power in the budgetary field, will be crucial and Charles Michel’s proposal does not forget this important detail. As a nod to the Eurocamara, which demands a budget of 1.3%, the proposal proposes to create new own resources with which to feed a budget that with the departure of the United Kingdom will lose 10,000 million euros every year. Specifically, a plastic tax as well as use the income generated with the emissions trading scheme. The document does not rule out in the future to use other possible taxes such as the digital rate, a possible tax on aviation, financial transactions or carbon.