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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The 2014-2020 EU budget: The deal that never was?

After the umpteenth round of talks on the next long-term EU budget between negotiators from the Irish Presidency, the European Parliament and the European Commission, Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore announced yesterday,
"We have concluded negotiations on the EU's multi-annual budget for the next seven years [2014-2020]. I have reached an agreement with the European Parliament's chief negotiator. We have agreed a package that we are both going to recommend to our respective institutions...This is a balanced package that addresses all four of the issues identified by the European Parliament as important for the EU budget." 
In exchange for agreeing (through gritted teeth) to a historic cut in overall spending from the 2007-2013 budget period, MEPs would secure concessions on "more flexibility" between spending areas and annual budgets, plus a mandatory 'mid-term review' of the long-term budget in 2016. There was also an agreement on "a method for carrying forward discussions" on direct taxes for the EU budget - whatever that means - but no binding commitment.

All sorted? Not quite. Alain Lamassoure, the French centre-right MEP who is heading the European Parliament's negotiating team, told a rather different story to AFP,
"Some members of the European Parliament's delegation are very cautious [on the outcome of the talks], and it's for this reason that I couldn't commit the European Parliament."
The leaders of the main political groups in the European Parliament will meet on Tuesday to decide whether or not they are happy with the latest compromise on the table. In other words, it seems the Irish Presidency was so eager to end its term with a landmark deal that it got a bit ahead of itself.

And not without consequences. German MEP Reimer Böge, from Angela Merkel's CDU party, resigned as the EPP rapporteur's on the 2014-2020 EU budget this morning in protest against what he described as "nothing more than a manipulation" from the Irish Presidency. According to him,
"The European Parliament's negotiating team last night decided not to continue the negotiations, if they can be called such at all, and submit the texts to the European Parliament."
A 'deal' that turned out not to be a deal after all. We can only wonder what ordinary citizens make of all this posturing, brinkmanship and back-room horse-trading.

Moreover, several important questions remain unanswered. How would this 'revision' work exactly, and what would it involve? Are MEPs prepared to drop their demand for it to take place under QMV and not unanimity? What's the point of having a non-binding discussion on 'own resources', given that there's no appetite for direct EU taxes across the bloc?

Ultimately, MEPs should be careful not to overplay their hand in seeking concessions - if push came to shove would they really veto the agreement painstakingly negotiated by EU leaders?

Things should become clearer next week. For the moment, it's worth keeping in mind that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations with MEPs, the deal will have to be endorsed by EU member states by unanimity - meaning that the UK would still have a veto over it. 


Rik said...

Also an issue on which Cameron is much too quiet.
He however takes the necessity of EU membership as the present focuss point re the EU. Which looks simply wrong.

The referendum is first in 4 years time (World wars have been started and lost in that time). Priority now should be get the basic facts over to the general voter and get them and especially the backbench quiet. A lot of the public simply misses completely the overview.

The Conservatives however come up with the EU necessity thing.
First of all that as a point that will first be relevant close for the referendum. While the other points needed much earlier attention. We have had a backbench show with the referendum and a poll show for what the people really want. But looked completely unorganised and were unnecessary imho.

However what needed immediate attention is that 'Dave' is filling to fight for it. Which could be an essential point re his credibility in this issue (which is pretty low). Budget is such an opportunity. Worst case he sort of loses if the EP doesnot cooperate. However imho that looks to be more than balanced by the fact that he has been able to show that he is going for it and the PR blackeye for the EP.

If you messed the relation with big parts of your voters up like Dave did and are 10% behind the worst PM candidate since Adolf bloody Hitler you will have to take risks to try to set things straight. Plus have to avoid making new mistakes.
Not do risky stuff when not absolutely necessary. No gay marriage and not start with EU membership necessities. Things might work, but things might also end up as the next publicity blooper.

Also towards the business sector. It has to be made clear that the fall back position is a freetrade zone. Not disappearing from the face of the earth.

Anonymous said...

As usual nothing is agreed or sorted out. They will just fudge it and come back to it in 2016.

This gives us EU citizens NO CONFIDENCE that things will ever change. As the Eurozone economies get worse this type of fudge will just increase, perhaps being applied to each and every 'difficult' decision.

This is simpy not acceptable. We need to exit.


Anonymous said...

So much for Cameron's boasts and rhetoric. No surprises though given the endemic corruption fraud, wast and extravagance, which has brought the eurozone to it's knees, whilst the self serving unelected commissar and bureaucrats continue to feed voraciously from the trough of public money!

€120 billion lost to corruption in EU each year
An estimated €120 billion is lost to corruption each year throughout the 27 member states, the EU commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstrom has said.


Anonymous said...

Spin, rhetoric, smoke and mirrors, or perhaps the dying gasps of the doomed euro and the wholly corrupt and fraudulent EU.

Meanwhile we have Cameron et al trying to convince us that he his going to give us a meaningless referendum and wee georgie continuing to drive us ever further into debt as we fund the rapacious demands of the EU Ponzi scheme and via the back door of the IMF those in the Eurozone who have been left destitute because of EU policies!