Polish PM attends key EU budget summit in Brussels

"We are pleased that (...) our negotiations with President Charles Michel, with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen have brought results," Morawiecki said. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrived in Brussels on Thursday to take part in an extraordinary EU summit devoted to the bloc's 2021-2027 budget.

Speaking to reporters in the Belgian capital before the summit Morawiecki said that Poland will not accept a situation in which the structure of the EU budget is revolutionised and the budget is lowered at the same time. In his view, new goals regarding migration, defence or innovation cannot be achieved at the expense of cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Polish prime minister also said that the new EU budget proposals, which Poland had received, were better than the previous ones.

Though the EU budget proposal for 2021-2027 prepared by European Council President Charles Michel has maintained general cuts in cohesion policy, it has also offered a modification thanks to which around EUR 6 billion will be transferred from richer countries to poorer ones.

Under this draft compromise, Poland is to receive more funds for both cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy in comparison with the earlier proposal of the European Commission, Morawiecki said.

"We are pleased that (...) our negotiations with President Charles Michel, with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen have brought results," Morawiecki said. He had met with Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in early February.

According to Morawiecki, the improvement of Poland's position as regards CAP amounts to EUR 0.5 billion, which is a step towards the leveling of payments for Polish farmers. He added that the Polish government is also striving to improve its position as regards the cohesion policy and "a step in the right direction has already been taken."

He made a reservation that the majority of funds for the construction of local government roads and motorways came from the national budget.

He also said that in many other areas where there were no national envelopes (the overall ceiling on the funding for direct payments) there are mechanisms that will allow the assignment funds to specific countries or regions. According to Morawiecki, Poland will be able to receive these funds. "We will propose the extension of this mechanism to more areas," he said.

Poland is also proposing to reduce spending on administration; "the Brussels bureaucracy," Morawiecki said. "We are glad that our proposal has already met with positive response from the President of the European Council," he added.

The prime minister also said that he wants to improve Poland's position in several areas and achieve "real convergence."

"This EU budget is to complement our economic growth," he said, adding that through negotiations in Brussels, the Polish government will try to add a "powerful impetus" to the economic development of the country.

According to the Polish prime minister, the current budget negotiations will be the most difficult from a historical point of view because, on the one hand, Great Britain is leaving the EU, and, on the other hand, there will be EUR 8-9 billion less in the EU budget annually. "If we multiply this by seven, we can see that the budget gap will be very big," he noted.

He also added that the negotiations would be difficult because some countries wanted to completely change the EU budget structure and, at the same time, to reduce spending on agricultural and cohesion policies.

Poland and other less-developed EU members argue for a bigger EU budget, with particular stress on the cohesion and agricultural policies, while some net payers to the common budget want to curb the size of it, especially given the United Kingdom's departure from the bloc.

The most vocal net payers include Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands, who want the budget to be equivalent to about one percent of the combined Gross National Income of all 27 EU member states. They are opposed by the 17-strong group of the so-called Friends of Cohesion Policy, comprising Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

According to unofficial information, the summit, which was originally planned as a one-day meeting, may be prolonged at least until Friday.