Brexit POLL: Do you think the EU will collapse without UK budget contributions? VOTE HERE
EU leaders met on Thursday in order to discuss how to fill an estimated €75billion (£62billion) funding gap following the UK’s departure from the bloc. Termed as the Multiannual Financial Framework, leaders will again today discuss how they will continue funding today at the crunch summit.
European Council President, Charles Michel, has put forward a plan to spend an estimated €1.095trillion (£916billion) over the seven years but has faced stern opposition over the proposal.
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Mr Michel will face a tough task to come to a consensus on the proposal, as countries such as the Netherlands and Austria have signalled their intent not to pay an increased sum.
Both countries are part of what has been termed as the ‘Frugal Four’, along with Sweden and Denmark.
All four are net contributors as they receive less than they pay into the annual budget.
Following the first day of the summit, Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte concluded he could “not put my signature to this”.
Mr Michel has called on member states to raise the EU’s expenditure beyond the one percent of the bloc’s Gross National Income.
However, in keeping with Mr Rutte, Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lovren said: “It is very clear that the member states are far apart from one another.”
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As well as being one of the select few net contributors to the budget, the UK was the second-largest in terms of gross payment.
With the UK leaving the EU, Germany and France will have to shoulder an increased burden for the budget.
However, ahead of the budget summit, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz claimed the proposal put forward was “unacceptable”.
French president Emmanuel Macron has been an advocate of member states putting more into the EU’s fund.
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In order to achieve the goal, Mr Macron has called for a rebate towards the net contributors to be scrapped.
Under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, Britain secured a partial rebate, but with the UK now leaving, the French president argued for this mechanism to be removed.
Germany, as well as the ‘Frugal Four’, wants to keep the refund, in contrast to Mr Macron.
One EU official stated: “Frugal countries obviously can’t have both 1.0 percent and rebates.”
French EU Affairs Minister Amélie de Montchalin said: “We go with the president in these debates in a fairly offensive manner — we will not accept an agreement that would cut Europe off.
“France is not ready to put more money on the table to indefinitely give it to its neighbours.
“We can’t just be part of a system where we write cheques to each other, as Margaret Thatcher used to say.”
Mr Michel’s budget was also criticised as being insufficient by eastern and southern European countries who benefit from the bloc’s farming and regional policies.
Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez described it as “highly disappointing”.
Meanwhile, European Parliament President, David Sassoli insisted MEPs would not be willing to agree “just any agreement” put forward.
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