‘Most Member States have acknowledged the European Commission’s proposals as a good basis for further negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework,’ Secretary of State Mikołaj Dowgielewicz declared in concluding the informal meeting of European affairs ministers in Sopot. ‘We have got clear support for the Polish Presidency to continue proceeding on the budget,’ emphasised Mr Dowgielewicz, who had chaired the two-day talks as a representative of the Polish Presidency.
In its discussion of the new financial framework the community is defining its policies for another decade. In the view of the Polish Presidency that means that one should not focus exclusively on the most urgent current needs (such as the necessity of consolidating public finances) but should also give some thought to the challenges the EU may face in future. In that context it is necessary to guarantee that the European Union budget becomes an effective investment tool.
‘The important thing is that we were able to hear each other out and present our positions. Our discussion centred on showing how the European budget provides ‘value added’ for the entire Union and its inhabitants,’ said the Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič.
‘The budget negotiations are like a hurdle race. Today we have crossed the second hurdle: a basic majority of Member States have acknowledged the European Commission draft as a good basis for negotiations. We have drawn conclusions from 2004, when the EC draft was deemed unrealistic,’ Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Janusz Lewandowski added.
A decisive majority of those taking part in the meeting that ended in Sopot on Friday have accepted the principles by which the European Commission had been guided in constructing the draft of the Long-Term Financial Framework. All agreed on the necessity of orientating the EU budget to the goals of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy, although differences on concrete solutions did emerge during the discussion.
During the debate, considerable time was devoted to the question as to the extent to which budget savings undertaken by individual governments at the national level should be reflected by the European budget. Some delegations emphasised that the EU budget must be increased to finance the new tasks facing the Union and arising from, among other things, the Treaty of Lisbon.
Many discussion participants emphasised that cohesion policy and Common Agricultural Policy must remain the budget’s foundation, since they are crucial to the functioning of the common market and the EU’s internal cohesion. But their modernisation is required as is an evaluation of the effectiveness of the funds spent to finance those two policies.
During the talks in Sopot, the issue of possible new own resources to finance the European Union budget was raised.
The two-day meeting in Sopot under the auspices of the Polish Presidency was the first political discussion on the new Multiannual Financial Framework.
Apart from representatives of the Presidency, 26 Member States, the Council and European Commission, also taking part in the debate were representatives of the European Parliament. The Polish Presidency has decided that the next discussion on the EU’s new multiannual budget will take place in September at the EU’s General Affairs Council.