European affairs minister criticises Finnish EU budget proposals

Szymański criticised the proposed budget for its unbalanced expenses and excessive cuts in cohesion and agricultural funding. /PAP/EPA

Poland's European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymański on Tuesday in Brussels criticised the Finnish EU presidency's latest EU budget proposals. Szymański said the proposed budget was unbalanced, with disproportionate cuts in cohesion and agriculture funding.

Szymański said at an open debate of the EU's General Affairs Council (GAC) that the Finnish presidency's proposals "did not bring us closer to a much desired compromise" around the EU budget. He criticised the proposed budget for its unbalanced expenses and excessive cuts in cohesion and agricultural funding. In this context, he also observed that cuts in cohesion funds would obstruct the member states' climate adaptation undertakings.

Last year, the EU suggested for the next EU budget to equal 1.114 percent of the member states' combined GDP. The Finnish presidency has proposed reducing this to 1.07 percent. Under the EC variant, Poland would receive 23 percent (EUR 19.5 billion) less in cohesion funding under the EU's next financial perspective.

Szymański argued that the 1.07 percent coefficient was far below the current 1.16 percent, and stressed that Poland supported an "ambitious" EU budget, as it would allow the member states to meet the tasks facing the community.

"Poland is appealing for an ambitious budget, 1.07 percent is far below the present 1.16 percent (...). We won't be able to do more for less. We hear the same thing all the time - Europe should do more of this and more of that. This is probably true, but we also need funding," the minister observed.

Szymański also was critical of solutions binding EU funding to the observance of the rule of law, arguing that this should be left to state leaders. He also criticised the budget proposals for their "insufficiently ambitious" solutions regarding agricultural funding, and appealed for equal farmer subsidies throughout the EU.