Slovenia Calls Proposed EU Budget Cuts a Provocation

By , 22 Feb 2020, 13:44 PM Politics
Slovenia Calls Proposed EU Budget Cuts a Provocation Wikimedia - CC-by-0

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STA, 21 February - Coming out of an EU summit dedicated to the bloc's next seven-year budget, which ended without an agreement, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec told reporters on Friday that the European Commission had presented a technical proposal for the 2021-2027 budget which the cohesion countries rejected. Šarec called the proposal a provocation.

"There is still no deal and we didn't expect it," said Šarec after the two-day negotiations.

He blamed the four net payer countries - Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Austria - for the failed talks.

Šarec believes the four countries, which are insisting on 1% of the EU's gross national income (GNI) for the first post-Brexit EU budget, want to cut the budget and are not ambitious enough. "The negotiations came to a standstill because of them ..." he said.

The other group of countries comprises of 17 net receiver countries known as friends of cohesion, which according to Šarec want an ambitious budget and claim that it is impossible to do more with less funds.

"We had two meetings today and we were united on both of them that this does not make any sense at the moment," the PM said.

The cohesion countries agreed that the latest proposal is unacceptable, because it is not ambitious enough and does not allocate enough funds for cohesion. "In addition, Slovenia cannot be certain whether it would get what it wants."

The plenary session, which was postponed several times during the day, was very short. The technical proposal, presented by the Commission, was not even discussed, according to Šarec "because we saw it as a provocation after everything we have witnessed in the last 24 hours".

Šarec said the cohesion countries had been united that there was no point in opening a new round of talks today and that it was better to "go home and make all the calculations again".

"We have to start fresh," Šarec said, adding that no talks were possible until a better proposal was on the table.

The outgoing prime minister reiterated that Slovenia would insist that a 24% cut in cohesion funds compared to the current budget was unacceptable.

EU leaders are expected to convene another meeting in March. It is not clear yet, however, whether this will be a regular meeting or another extraordinary meeting. 5 March is being mentioned unofficially as a possible date for a potential extraordinary summit.

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