Tough negotiations over EU budget

The EU member states are trying to hammer out an agreement on the EU budget for 2021-2027 at their special summit in Brussels. Prior to the summit and after tough discussions EU Council President Charles Michel had proposed a compromise: member States should pay 1.074 percent of their GNP into the EU's coffers. Is that too much?

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De Telegraaf (NL) /

Europe is a bottomless pit

The Netherlands is one of the EU countries that is strictly against increasing contributions. With good reason, De Telegraaf explains:

“Billions go to Brussels. This money then disappears into the bottomless pit of European agricultural subsidies and regional funds. Instead of demanding more and making threats, the EU should tighten its belt and have the courage to tackle reforms. This is why Prime Minister Mark Rutte must sell his skin as expensively as possible and, if necessary, use his veto. Paying even more money for Brussels will further undermine the already crumbling support for EU.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Germany earning billions from the EU

Germany should be the last country making a fuss about paying higher contributions to the EU budget, says Deutschlandfunk radio:

“You can guess what the average German is saying through the beer fumes down at the pub: 'We're not Europe's paymaster'. And he's right, but not in the way he thinks. Because the calculation which is being repeated like a mantra is wrong. It completely ignores how much our country benefits from the EU. Germany's economic profits from the single market amount to 170 billion euros - year after year. In other words, we are earning ridiculous amounts from the EU.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Less money for farmers, more for innovation

The EU states should be less concerned about how big the budget will be and put more thought into how the funds could be reallocated, the Financial Times urges:

“There is a risk that the Brussels summit will descend into unseemly midnight squabbles about who will pay more, who will get a rebate and who is laughing all the way to the bank. Compromises will be necessary. As a proportion of overall spending, less ought to go to farmers and landowners. Less should go to regional subsidies, which should be attached to respect for the rule of law, in west and east. More is needed for research, innovation, climate change, defence and security.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Good arguments on all sides

The negotiations on the EU budget are taking so long because all sides are in the right, says Jutarnji list:

“How can we tell those states that give more to the EU than they take from it that they are in the wrong when they demand a smaller budget? The argument that the EU now has 65 million fewer citizens after the departure of a state that paid 75 billion euros over seven years into the EU budget, and that the budget should now be correspondingly smaller also makes sense. At the same time those states and institutions that argue that everyone has agreed that we need to face new challenges - better surveillance of the external borders, more investment in science and research, environmental protection and strengthening security and defence - are also right.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

West keeping East under its thumb

The pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet criticises the fact that EU funds are to be contingent on compliance with the rule of law:

“Such an attitude is based on the principle that the East receives euros from the West as a reward - or almost as alms. ... This issue has to do with the European division of labour, and with the inequalities that developed over centuries and were cemented during communism. ... And also with the fact that with the fall of communism our markets were opened and our factories were closed - or new factories were opened which generate huge profits for the West because Hungarian workers work just as well as their German or Belgian counterparts, but for far less pay.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Shameful stinginess

The Netherlands is one of the countries that strictly refuses to increase its contribution. NRC Handelsblad criticises this in no uncertain terms:

“Once again the 'thrifty' member states are fighting a bitter battle against the 'parasites'. A paralysing discussion that will further damage the EU's reputation at a time when there is so much more at stake. As a country that is better off economically, the Netherlands basically has the luxury of taking a less one-sided view of the budget. ... These negotiations are not a competition. They are about an investment in Europe - the Europe from which the Netherlands earns so much.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

A little more is also okay

Sweden, like the Netherlands, insists that no more than one percent of its GDP should be paid into the EU budget. Upsala Nya Tidning calls for less financial narrow-mindedness:

“Sweden should not pay more than necessary and [Prime Minister] Löfven will do what he can. But it's important not to lose sight of the circumstances. Payments to the EU amount to just under one percent of GDP. The biggest advantage for Sweden as an exporting country is not agricultural aid, but its membership in the single market. And if the EU's planned climate package and the fight against crime are to be successful, why shouldn't the budget be slightly increased?”

Digi 24 (RO) /

Division into poor and rich would be failure

Former Romanian Prime Minister and current MEP Mihai Tudose warns in a commentary for Digi 24 of the consequences of cutting the budget:

“The danger for tomorrow's Europe is that it will not stop at simply naming backwards regions, but that the reality will be that entire countries are left behind economically. ... From that it's just one step to leaving countries out in the cold. According to the EU Commission, 47 regions in eight EU countries are suffering from economic stagnation and a decline in income, with all the consequences that entails. ... An EU with two poles - one heading for artificial intelligence and green energy, the other treading water due to chronic poverty - would mean the failure of the European project.”