Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the EC in charge of Financial Programming and Budget, travelled to Warsaw to participate in the one of the meetings with the citizens of the whole European Union (the Citizens' Dialogues). Surely the EU coffers paid for all those festivities in the home country of the budget Commissioner. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the EC in charge of Financial Programming and Budget, travelled to Warsaw to participate in the one of the meetings with the citizens of the whole European Union (the Citizens’ Dialogues). Surely the EU coffers paid for all those festivities in the home country of the budget Commissioner. (EC Audiovisual Services).

The Irish Presidency is becoming the Trojan Horse of the EU Council and the Commission in their quest to push the European Parliament into an agreement over the funding of the Union’s budgets from 2012 up to 2020. The legislative has rejected last week the proposal of the Ecofin Council for parallel negotiations for everything that is for the gaps in the 2013 budget, the unpaid bills from 2012 and the Multiannual Financial Framework for the 2014-2020 spending.

The relevant announcement of the Ecofin was then adamant that it will be ‘an agreement for everything or nothing’. At this point it must be reminded that the Parliament considers the negotiation and the possible agreement over the MFF 2014-2020 funding as impossible, if there is no accord on the unpaid bills of 2012 and the funding gaps which are expected to be left uncovered in this year’s budget.

Yesterday however the Irish Presidency came back with increased demands. According to a Press release, “The Council pushes ahead to secure an agreement with the European Parliament on the next multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020 before the summer break. At its meeting on 21 May the Council unanimously supported the Irish presidency’s efforts to broker a deal by the end of June”.

As for the extra funding needed for the two-year period 2012 – 2013, the Council has proposed even since February to create an extra budget of €7.3 billion. The Parliament answered last month that the extra funds needed for this two-year period are of the order of €11.5bn. Now the Irish Presidency insists not only that for the time being there won’t be any more short-term funds, but on top of that it makes clear that the MFF 2014-2020 is set at €960bn and it is enough. This last offer was rejected by the Parliament last month in a rare unanimity of the four major parties. The President of the Parliament, Martin Schulz, on that occasion went as far as to state that he will never sign a Multi Annual Framework which doesn’t provide enough funding and includes a large loan by the European Union, because he explained that the European Treaties forbid such borrowing.

Despite that, the Irish vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, issued yesterday a press release asking the Parliament to accept everything. It reads like this: “There is nothing extra to be gained by waiting until after the summer to reach this agreement. On the contrary: we cannot afford in any way to call into question the continuity of European Union programmes.”

Gilmore went even further and asked for a second or third time a timely agreement, all-inclusive. He stressed that, “The MFF… of €960 billion euro is critical for investment in cohesion, investment in infrastructure, research and innovation, the common agricultural policy and the youth employment initiative. There is, I believe, a responsibility on all of us – the Presidency, the Council, ministers and the European Parliament – to reach agreement on the MFF.”

As for the 2012-2013 extra funds he clarified that “The Council took an important step vis-à-vis the European Parliament on 14 May, when it agreed to provide an additional €7.3bn for the 2013 EU budget and made a commitment to return to the issue later in the year”.
In short the Council, through the Irish Presidency at its highest level (Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), draws a red line and warns the Parliament that ‘this is it, take or leave it”. No to forget that, asking your interlocutor the same thing three times transforms the discussion into an inquisition.

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