Czech PM Babis lobbies against reduction of EU budget

PM Andrej Babis hosts a summit of poorer EU member states, which is going to take place on Tuesday (Nov 5), which should feature countries like Slovakia, Poland, Spain, Portugal and Estonia, all net beneficiaries from EU funding. The goal of the summit is to build a united front against pressure from larger member states like Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark, who wish to dial down spending after Brexit. Babis hopes to rump up support for the European Commission’s proposal to increase member states’ budget contribution to 1.11% of GNI, which should provide EUR1.25bn over the next seven years. Some of the states to be present, like Poland and Hungary, support even a higher budget contribution.

Another problematic issue is the insistence of the EC that member states should prioritize environment, energy efficiency, public transport, fight against drought and research & development. The EC wants three quarters of EU funding to for these areas, something with which newer member states disagree, as they have plenty of other areas to invest in. EU funding is essential for domestic investment, representing about 40% of all public investment made over the past couple of EU budget cycles. Poorer states also want to invest more in social measures, given their lower income levels. The EC has responded that while each state has the right to prioritize different sectors, the EC also has the right to propose budget priorities.

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