Money talks: February summit will set EU priorities for the long term

16/01/2013 at 8:10 am Leave a comment

On 7-8 February, European leaders will meet in Brussels to seek to reach a deal on the bloc’s next seven-year budget. (see this briefing paper on the EU budget)

A first round of talks among EU leaders ended without agreement in November, when plans to cut the EU’s €1 trillion budget failed to get agreement. (see our response to that failure)

The talks are headed by EU Council President Herman van Rompuy, but Ireland will need to play a role as a broker for the agreement. About three-quarters of EU spending currently goes on farm subsidies and infrastructure and other projects in Europe’s poorer regions. The remainder is spent on areas such as research, overseas aid and education.

In this article, Dóchas explains why these budget talks are so important.

Under the compromise proposals put forward at the November summit, the EU’s budget for 2014-2020 would be fixed at a maximum of €972 billion – about 80 billion less than the Commission’s original proposal. This compromise saw modest cuts to farm subsidies and regional aid spending, and a 13% cut to the EU’s budget for foreign policy (and cut the EU’s Development Fund by 11%).

The proposals for the February meeting are unlikely to include further cuts to farm and regional spending meaning deeper cuts would be needed in other areas of EU spending. EU officials indicate that funds earmarked for cross-border energy and transport projects, research and overseas development aid are the most likely targets for further cuts – even though EU overseas aid has been shown to be effective, and popular among EU citizens. (Also watch Bill Gates’ defence of EU aid here)

Bizarrely, though, there is very little debate about the negotiations for a new multi-annual budget for the European Union. And particularly in Ireland, the country charged with brokering agreement on the priorities, there should be a great deal more awareness of the issues at stake.

People in Ireland are now being asked to start a debate about the EU’s long term priorities. The “Act Now on 2015” campaign is asking people to contact their TDs and to remind them that the prosperity of all Europe’s citizens depends on global stability and peaceful international cooperation.

We must Act Now to save the EU’s commitment to overseas aid.


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Ireland’s EU Presidency is an opportunity to shape the thinking on how to end world poverty The International Year of Quinoa – Every silver lining has a cloud.

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