Cuts versus status quo or increase will be the theme of budget summit as European Union (EU) leaders begin negotiations on the bloc’s seven-year outlay.
A section of leaders have called for calling for cuts in line with the savings they are making nationally while the countries like Poland that depend upon EU funding are pressing for raising the budget or alternatively maintain current status quo.
The UK and some other net contributors say cuts have to be made. British Prime Minister David Cameron will press for a minimum real-terms freeze. At stake are 973 billion euros ($1,245 billion), (BBC) News said. The bargaining in Brussels will continue on Friday, or even longer.
The draft budget – officially called the 2014-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) – was drawn up by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who made cuts to the European Commission’s original plan.
France objects to the proposed cuts in agriculture, while countries in Central and Eastern Europe oppose cuts to cohesion spending – that is, EU money that helps to improve infrastructure in poorer regions.
They are the biggest budget items. The Van Rompuy plan envisages 309.5 billion euros for cohesion (32% of total spending) and 364.5 billion euros for agriculture (37.5%).
The EU budget is a small fraction of what the 27 member states’ governments spend in total.