Reuniting Europe

I spoke to various people in EU institutions recently and got the impression that the European Parliament’s position on the 2014-2020 budget has the full backing of Angela Merkel.

Not in substance, because the Parliament wants an ambitious budget, while Germany is an advocate of cuts and “better spending”. But because of tactics, vis-à-vis Merkel’s most difficult interlocutor – David Cameron.

The budget talks were originally based on a European Commission proposal, presented in June last year, which suggested raising the next seven-year budget to €1.025 trillion, up from the current €976 billion. The UK wants cuts to the level of €200 billion and Germany to the level of €130 billion.

Last week Van Rompuy tabled a budget proposal at €973, which is lower in comparable prices with the 2007-2014 budget, which stands at €993. It is assorted with a system of penalties imposed on countries in breach of their commitments under excessive deficit or under bailout which should be to the taste of Germany. Van Rompuy will probably table a revised version of his proposal today.

Cameron is likely to say that he would veto such a proposal. But in Parliament, Jo Leinen, a leading German Social Democrat MEP close to Schulz, says the UK rebate must go.

Any agreement coming from the forthcoming summit is going to be pending the adoption of the European Parliament. Parliament is not going to accept any agreement, warns S&D MEP Ivailo Kalfin, one of the two European Parliament rapporteurs on the 2014-2020 EU budget.

Frankly I expect no agreement at this summit. But let’s see where all the bluffing will lead.


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