Sharing the burden fairly in the European budget

On 20 November in Brussels, EU foreign ministers met for the General Affairs Council. Preparations for the summit of EU Heads of State and Government at the special European Council on 22 23 November dedicated to the EU’s multiannual financial framework for 2014 2020 were a focus of the meeting. Minister of State Link stood in for Foreign Minister Westerwelle.

Before the meeting began, Minister of State Michael Georg Link said that three thins were important to Germany. First, there must be a clear limit on spending. The most recent proposal put forth by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, was still “to high” in terms of total spending, said Link, adding “there is still room for cuts.”

The second important point was, he went on, modernization in substance: “We need to spend our money better.” It was a question of thematic focus, of modern spending criteria, he said. There had to be, he continued, ways to make adjustments within the seven year period, if it turns out that things do not go according to plan. Better spending was “extremely important” to Germany, he insisted, nothing that too little was said about this in the current proposal.

His third point was that fair burden-sharing is also important: “It is clear to us that we will show solidarity. We stand behind the EU budget. And because we do, we of course also call for our contribution to be fair.” He said that Germany’s contribution could not be allowed to shoot through the roof and that it clearly needed to be adjusted.

Germany supports a limit on spending. The current proposals by the European Commission and the President of the European Council, van Rompuy, as well as the Cyprus presidency are considered to be too high. At the beginning of November, Minister of State Michael Georg Link explained the German Government’s position in the negotiations, especially on the principle of better spending in the following statement:

We want the 2014 2020 budget to be modern, in other words, both well-targeted and economical, a budget that invests systematically in growth, competitiveness and employment. The only thing that will work is to concentrate on the key priorities. So the solution is not to spend more all the time but to invest where investment is needed. That’s what we call better spending. (...) We strongly support keeping EU spending under the next multiannual framework limited to 1% of the EU’s GDP.

The negotiations are a key European project

The negotiation of the next multiannual financial framework, due to go into effect in 2014, is a key European project. The EU’s entire revenue and expenditure system will be on the table and a decision made on how some 1000 billion euros are to be raised and spent. Within the German Government, the Federal Foreign Office is lead ministry for the negotiations. The goal is to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2012.

More information on the negotiations concerning the multiannual financial framework can be found here.

Last updated 20.11.2012

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