Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 21 February 2018

EU budget needs to be more 'ambitious' as well as facing cuts

Margaret Donnelly in Brussels

The EU budget must become more ambitious in light of the €14bn hole Brexit will leave, according to the EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger.

The EU budget must become more ambitious in light of the €14bn hole Brexit will leave, according to the EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Gunther Oettinger.

Speaking at the EU Agricultural Outlook conference, he said that over the next decade there will be some problems preparing the budget with two "gaps" - Brexit and new tasks.

"There is going to be €14bn in structural funds missing from the EU budget due to Brexit – we can 100pc forecast that for the future."

New tasks, such as border protection and inspections, defence and research projects need to be managed and co-financed at EU level.

These new tasks, he said, could cost in the region of €10bn and must be 80pc covered by fresh money and 20pc through cuts.

"The Brexit gap should be 50pc covered from additional Member State contributions and 50pc by budget cuts."

However, he warned that with less than 1pc of Gross National Income (GNI) coming from Member States to the EU budget, it would not be possible to achieve such tasks.

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"We should push for higher than 1pc of GNI. We need also to cut the budget."

The UK is the second largest net contributor, he said, and the EU can't "pretend that nothing is happening".

"We have until May to make a decision, but we need to make cuts, there is no other option."

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan told the conference earlier in the day that Member States could increase the GNI to 1.1pc or 1.2pc and said it would "help enormously to fill in the gap in our resources".

Agriculture

On agriculture, Commissioner Oettinger said that the EU objective is for 50pc of people to live in rural areas, but that is not possible without investment and services to provide a good standard of living in those areas.

He also said that the EU does not want to do anything that harms what has been achieved by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and that future cuts should be "proportional".

"I want there to be proportionate cuts, not drastic cuts and I want to avoid anything that harms anything we have achieved in the CAP."

Re-nationalisation of the CAP is the wrong direction to take. I am fighting to keep a fully common CAP within the EU."

He also said that national co–financing of direct payments to farmers was not something he is in favour of. It would lead to competition issues and would not save the tax payer money, he said.

"I am very reluctant about that proposal."


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