AS business picks up pace in Brussels after the Christmas holidays, the future of the EU’s long-term budget including the shape of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020 have come into sharper focus.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker this week called on the remaining 27 Member States to pay more money into the bloc’s long-term budget to finance existing and new priorities, after the UK leaves the EU. The country’s departure from the bloc is expected to leave a budgetary gap of around €10 billion per year.
Speaking at a high-level conference on the next Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) – running from 2020 to 2027 – in Brussels on January 8th, the Commission chief said ‘we need more than one percent of GDP if we are to pursue EU policies and fund them adequately.’ The EU’s total annual economic output is roughly €20 trillion, or around €17.5 trillion without the UK.
During his speech, Juncker pointed to new challenges where the EU has to increase its common spending, such as migration, defence, counter-terrorism measures and border protection. But he was clear that any shortfall should not be filled by cutting existing European policies such as Cohesion funds or the EU’s farm policy, which make up around half of the budget.
‘I am not in favour of drastic cuts in the cohesion policy sector, it is still important, not only for the countries benefitting, but for the others too,’ he added, insisting that both legislative frameworks must be modernised.
During his opening address, the former Luxembourg Prime Minister urged policymakers to present their policy ambitions and then explore ways to finance those goals. ‘We need to agree first on objectives, what we want … from there, we will be able to see how to provide the financial means,’ he said.
The Commission is expected to unveil its long-term budget proposal in May, while Juncker underlined that Member States should adopt the new budget ahead of the European elections in early June 2019.
• Rose O’Donovan is editor-in-chief of the Brussels-based publication AGRA FACTS and has been following the evolution of European farm policy for over 10 years.