As a result of Brexit, billions of euros will be lost in the EU budget from next year. The poorer EU states in Eastern and Southern Europe therefore fear that they will soon receive less aid. Now they are fighting together against cuts.
After Brexit, the poorer EU states in Eastern and Southern Europe are calling for a quick agreement on a new EU budget that leaves aid for the weaker member states untouched. The group "Friends of Cohesion" from the 17 poorer EU countries in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe discussed the consequences of the net payer Great Britain’s exit from the EU in Beja in southern Portugal.
The goal: no cuts in the Cohesion Fund
15 of the participating countries committed themselves in a joint declaration to fight against cuts in the Cohesion Fund. This grants aid to EU countries whose per capita gross national income is less than 90 percent of the EU average. The signatories include Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Greece, Malta, Spain and Portugal. Italy decided against it. Croatia did not sign in order to remain neutral as the current EU Council President.
"More than ever, we must reaffirm the cohesion of the European Union, as it is now more fragile with the departure of Great Britain," said Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. The "Friends of Cohesion" wanted to reach a definitive agreement on the next multi-annual budget of the EU by February 20th.
Great Britain left the EU on Saturday night. In the transition phase that will last until the end of the year, the country will still pay its contributions to the EU budget, but from 2021 twelve billion euros will be lost from the United Kingdom.
Special summit on the budget
EU Council President Charles Michel has therefore scheduled a special summit for February 20th because of the ongoing dispute over the financial planning of the European Union. He justified this by saying that the negotiations on the next multi-annual budget of the EU are "among the most difficult that we have to face".
The Finnish EU Council Presidency presented a compromise proposal for the upcoming EU budget at the beginning of December. It provides for an EU budget of 1,087.3 billion euros for the period from 2021 to 2027. This would be 1.07 percent of the EU’s economic output. The commission had originally demanded payments of at least 1.11 percent of the gross domestic product from the member states, partly because of its climate plans. But Germany and other net contributors such as Austria and the Netherlands want to keep the budget at the previous 1.0 percent.