EU Budget Agreement

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European Union governments, parliament and the executive commission reached a deal on the bloc’s 2020 budget that boosts spending on fighting climate change, EU border protection and setting up Europe’s own satellite system. The preliminary figures are €168.7 billion in commitment appropriations and €153.6 billion in payment appropriations. Next year, the EU has committed to finance projects worth 168.7 billion euros ($186.8bn), of which 21 percent will go to measures to fight climate change.

The 2020 budget envisages some 60 billion euros ($66bn) to support farmers, fisheries and biodiversity, and almost 59 billion euros ($65bn) to reduce economic and social differences between European regions. The EU has set itself the goal of dedicating at least 20% of EU expenditure to climate protection in the period 2014-2020.

To help meet this goal, the Parliament and the Council have agreed to increase the focus on climate related actions in several areas such as research and development (Horizon 2020), transport and energy infrastructure (Connecting Europe Facility) and the EU’s external action. Additional funds have also been allocated to the EU’s LIFE programme, which will receive €590 million, and the European Environment Agency for recruiting new staff to support the fight against climate change.

The next seven year budget will start from 2021 and last until the end of 2027. It is and has gone through under tough negotiations now because it will no longer include the United Kingdom, a large net contributor as London wants to leave the EU on Jan 31, 2020. Under the umbrella of budget the Youth Employment Initiative will be strengthened with €23.8 million including a joint statement by the Parliament, the Council and the Commission pledging that this will be topped up with €50 million in the summer of 2020 if the Commission confirms this is necessary.

In addition, the Erasmus exchange programme will be increased by €50 million. Earlier, there was confusion. The U.K.’s impending exit means that the bloc will lose one of its key net contributors when a country’s payments into the EU outweigh its revenues from it. This is set to leave a shortfall of about 7.8 billion pounds $10 billion every year in net terms in the EU’s next budget.

And the question of who will fill that gap was stressing out several member states. The EU’s budget is not just a budgetary exercise. It is a political exercise. There was also the question of a rebate, which is an adjustment mechanism introduced in 1984 at the request of the U.K. Now that Britain is set to leave the EU, some countries argue that this mechanism should be scrapped altogether. The European Union released its new EU Central Asia Strategy

earlier this year, covers cooperation between the EU and Central Asia across a wide number of areas coping with climate change and development of renewable energy resources; security issues; border control and harmonizing customs and transit regulations to speed up trade between countries and between Europe and Asia,

Student and professor exchanges among academic institutions; improving the human rights situation in Central Asia and other matters. The political guidelines for the next European Commission 2019–24 published by Ursula von der Leyen in July 2019 are addressed to EU member states, but they also indicate how a joint programme with partners to the East could be constructed.

The guidelines place a strong emphasis on the relationship between economic and technological development and how initiatives can be harnessed in ways that deliver direct benefits to citizens. The most specific parts of the guidelines refer to issues where partners could play an important role in cooperative efforts.

Coming back to the budget discussion, around 93% of the EU’s budget goes to citizens, regions, cities, farmers and businesses. The EU’s administrative expenses account for approximately 7% of the total. The 2020 budget is the last annual spending plan of the EU’s seven-year budget, which is equal to one percent of the 28-nation bloc’s gross national income.

 

Writer is the Assistant Editor ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’, ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Project Coordinator (COPAIR); a degree holder in communication & media sciences.

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