EU at risk of eurosceptic surge amid ongoing budget clash threatening bloc with huge split
European Union member states have been contending with the debate over the common budget contributions for the next seven years, with the EU27 expressing their dissent with the proposals the European Commission and the European Council have put forward. The bloc has been warned failure to find common ground among all member states could cause eurosceptic feelings to explode across the continent. Speaking to CNBC International, budget specialist Professor Friedrich Heinemann said: “There’s a risk for populism on both sides.
“On the side of the richer countries where voters may see this as unfair treatment, ‘we pay too much.’
“On the side of the poorer countries, the agricultural countries, the risk is they say they don’t receive sufficient money, there’s no sufficient solidarity.”
Prof Heinemann suggested the only solution to avoid a potential breakdown in relations between EU members may be looking for “added value”: “The way out of this problem is that you look for European added value.
“Look for spending which is in the interest of both the rich and the poor country, both of the agricultural and non-agricultural countries where you really address European challenges. This is the way out.”
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The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Council President Charles Michel have been pushing members to increase contributions to 1.11 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI).
Under the European Commission’s latest masterplan, net contributors could see their annual Multi Financial Framework (MFF) contribution grow dramatically between 2020 and 2027.
The Netherlands and Austria, who are part of the so-called Frugal Four with Denmark and Sweden, would see their contributions double to €8billion (£6.7billion) and €2billion (£1.7billion) respectively.
In addition to investing more in Brussels’ “new priorities”, some member states could see the cost of membership increase to make up for the gap the UK left in the budget after Brexit happened in January.
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Former EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger estimated Britain quitting the bloc will result in a budgetary hole worth £9.9bn (€12bn) to £12.5bn (€15bn) over the next seven years.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on other members of the bloc to seek a compromise but her Finance Minister Olaf Scholz branded the current proposal “unacceptable”.
A spokesman for Chancellor Merkel said in order to reach an agreement it “will require a willingness from all sides to compromise”.
EU leaders came together in Brussels on Thursday for an EU Summit aimed at discussing the budget proposals in hopes of finding some common ground among member states.
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Charles Michel insisted ahead of the summit “everything is on the table” despite the “many concerns” the EU27 have expressed over the proposed budget.
President Michel said: “The last weeks we have worked very hard with all the leaders and I’m grateful to the leaders for the hard work we have done together.
“There are many interests and there are many concerns and they are all legitimate.
“But I’m convinced that it is possible to make progress in the next hours or in the next days.”
He added: “The last efforts to reach a compromise are always the most difficult but I feel there is a positive willingness to continue to work, to dialogue, in order to make a decision to meet the EU’s priorities for the next years.”
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