Mon | Feb 24, 2020

European Parliament chief pushes for ambitious long-term budget

Published:Thursday | February 13, 2020 | 12:09 AM

BRUSSELS (AP):

The European Parliament president warned European Union (EU) member states yesterday that they won’t have the support of lawmakers if they fail to back anambitious long-term budget for the bloc.

European leaders will gather in Brussels on February 20 for a special summit to find a compromise on the bloc’s budget for the years 2021 to 2027. The money will be used for a variety of purposes, including subsidies for farmers and helping out poorer regions around the world.

The budget discussions at the EU summit around the Multiannual Financial Framework take place in the wake of Britain’s departure from the EU. Britain was one of the biggest contributors into the EU budget, which means an increase in contributions is needed to plug the gap.

CONTRIBUTIONS

The European Commission has proposed that member states should contribute 1.11 per cent of their gross national income, that will generate an overall budget of €1.135 trillion ($1.25 trillion) for the seven-year period. The European Parliament thinks member states should pay more into the EU coffers and is suggesting the contributions are more in the 1.3 per cent region. Some member states want to go as low as one per cent.

The EU Parliament’s role matters, as one of the major powers that European lawmakers have is the ability to vote down a budget.

“We want to reach an agreement with the council; however, if they refuse to move and accept Parliament’s positions then we will go all the way and reject the new long-term EU budget,” EU Parliament President David Sassoli said yesterday. “These are not just abstract figures, but have real consequences for the lives of all Europeans.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has urged EU leaders to put their differences aside and has highlighted her pledge to make Europe carbon-neutral by 2050.

“If no budget is agreed soon, then next year we will not be able to fund the fight against climate change, to support research and innovation, or to support our cohesion policies,” said von der Leyen, who presides over the bloc’s executive arm.