EU Council chief takes over budget negotiations

(EurActiv, 13 Dec 2019) The European Council handed over negotiation duties for the next EU long-term budget to its president, Charles Michel, during the first round of the December summit on Thursday (12 December).

“It will be my responsibility, in close collaboration with the Commission, to try to find a compromise,” Michel announced during a press conference.

Belgium’s former prime minister told EU leaders that he will start bilateral contacts in January and vowed to intensify technical and political work so as to reach a deal as soon as possible.

“I am not going to commit myself to a timeframe at this stage but when we think we have enough progress, we will enter a final stage of negotiation,” he explained. The idea of a summit in February was floated at the meeting but it is not certain yet.

Michel argued that negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) are “extremely complex” and will be “the most difficult one ever in EU history because of the Brexit gap”.

According to the European Commission’s assessment, the ‘Brexit gap’ accounts for €13 billion per year. Michel warned this would “necessarily mean” that certain member states would have to contribute more and some would have to receive less.

Countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden or Austria argue that as a member state leaves the bloc, the budget should be kept at 1% GNI, not increase. Others, however, demand a more ambitious budget for a bolder Europe.

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EurActiv, 13 Dec 2019: EU Council chief takes over budget negotiations