New EU budget proposal imperfect, but a good start for a debate

The proposal presented by the European Commission on Wednesday makes it possible to start a debate on the future of the next EU budget, stated Jerzy Kwieciński, the Polish Investment and Development Minister. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański added, that the proposal is still imperfect.

Earlier on Wednesday the EC passed a draft of the EU's 2021-27 budget stating total obligations of EUR 1.279 trillion and payments at EUR 1.246 trillion. No payment quotas for the member states have yet been determined.

The EC has proposed to tie funding under the new financial perspective to observance of the rule of law. Under the draft, cohesion policy and CAP cuts may reach 7 and 5 percent respectively.

Szymański said the debate around the new EU budget promised to be "hard, long, at times quite tense and not devoid of sudden turns." He added that the talks would be the toughest in the Community's history, and that their pace will depend on the member states and EU institutions willingness to compromise.

"This is a match, which can prove to be quite interesting as it will be a game that everybody wants to win," Kwiecinski,  the Minister of Investment and Development, told reporters, stressing that "one cannot say when it will end."

Szymański said Poland appreciated the fulfillment of some of its and other Central European countries' postulates regarding the budget, but observed that there was "still a long way to go" before a full compromise in the matter was reached.

"Poland is likely to continue as the biggest beneficiary of the new EU budget for 2021-2027 due to the size of the country and thanks to the fact that it will strongly benefit from the cohesion and agricultural policies," Kwieciński declared.

He added that this was a budget which put emphasis (...) on new areas, which had earlier been less visible in EU budgets or were completely new.

The official said that the EU planned to significantly increase Erasmus Plus programme funding and raise research and development spending.

"We have considerably more funds for migration policy, border protection, migrants, refugees, new funds on defence policy and security policy," the minister announced.

Kwieciński admitted that no details had been presented yet and that more details would be known in late May. "We managed to achieve a situation in which cohesion policy and CAP have been strongly reflected in this budget. We also managed to avert some threats, which had appeared earlier and which concerned cuts in these policies."

Szymański stressed that Poland will not agree to "disproportionate" cuts in cohesion funding, observing that structural policy served "the EU as a whole."

"We have always stressed that cohesion policy (...) serves the entire EU. This is not aid policy or some kind of non-refundable loan scheme, but a policy of investment in the EU as a whole. We will certainly not agree to disproportionate cuts in this area," Szymański declared.

With proposals to increase EU member fees to the budget, the negotiations in the coming months will not be easy.