Wednesday, May 22, 2024
 
 

Lewandowski to EU governments: No take-it-or-leave-it Budget proposal for Parliament

Lewandowski talks to New Europe on the difficulties of reaching a political agreement between member states for the EU’s key Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027
EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER/FILE PICTURE
Polish MEP Janusz Lewandowski from the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and the Vice Chairman of the EP Committee on Budgets and former commissioner, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Lewandowski talked to New Europe in Strasbourg about finding a compromise on EU’s key Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027.

- Advertisement -

STRASBOURG – Following a debate on EU’s key Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 in Strasbourg on 12 February and ahead of a special EU summit starting on 20 February, New Europe sat down with Polish MEP Janusz Lewandowski from the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Vice Chairman of the EP Committee on Budgets and former commissioner, for an interview to discuss the next long-term EU budget, Brexit and the difficulties of reaching a political agreement between member states, including on climate action, and migration priorities.
New Europe (NE): You have mentioned your concern about the division between the Cohesion Countries, now is this Extraordinary Summit on February 20 a first step?
Janusz Lewandowski (JL): The first step was the ‘negotiating box’ by the Finnish Presidency. This was in December, which was rejected. That was less than the Commission’s original proposal, so it was even further away from the position of the European Parliament. Now everything is really in the hands of (EU Council President Charles) Michel. I count on his experience in dealing with the leaders of Europe because he has experience, he remembers the story of (former EU Council President) Herman Van Rompuy, because in 2012-2013 this was all in the hands of Van Rompuy, but this is not the only division. It is now more difficult to find a coherent position in Cohesion countries because some of them are rewarded Plus – Bulgaria, Romania plus 8% – and some minus 23-24%. Eastern Europe is generally Minus, with the exception of Bulgaria and Romania … Italy is Plus. I name the budget proposed by former budget Commissioner (Günther) Oettinger as a budget of solidarity with the south given the real challenges of migration this is justified. My budget was more a conversion budget – East and West – this was more solidarity with Eastern countries, with co-called new countries. They were mainly rewarded. The Cohesion net-payers’ problem is not only their, but also the diversification of winners and losers in the Cohesion countries.
NE: So, they said they wanted the priorities to go back to the pre-Brexit negotiations…
JL: Brexit was seen as a major problem. The major problem could be now to find a decent compensation for the Green Deal, for example, because it is something new and has appeared after the proposal of the European Commission. Brexit is no longer seen as a major problem and as a pretext for delaying the proposal of the Commission because the proposal of the Commission was delayed by half a year. It should have been done by the end of 2017, but it was done in May 2018. I don’t think it is a major problem now days.
NE: Regarding funding for the Green Deal, some budget negotiators said it will be from existing programmes…
JL: So, here is one more disagreement and that is why it is an emerging problem because it is a full disagreement with the European Parliament. Parliament is to finance traditional policies – agriculture and cohesion –  on top what is necessary for migration and thr Green Deal. This is so-called fresh money of €7.5 billion. I don’t know whether Commissioner (for Budgets Johannes) Hahn has the green-light for this Just Transition Fund from typical net payers that are the most difficult. Normally, the UK was the most difficult partner but we have Sweden, we have Finland, we have the Netherlands, and his home-country Austria, which is always a very difficult tough negotiator. I think what happened is this shift in strategy. The Green Deal is a new dimension of Europe, absolutely number one priority of Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission and some countries with difficulties for this carbon neutrality were promised money – this is €7.5 (billion), the rest is about a Cohesion addition, The budgetary contributions of member states, leveraged money, financial instruments – really we have €7.5 billion, for Poland that is €2 billion and we still don’t know whether this is fresh as promised by Hahn or this is reshuffle of existing funds.
NE: And the 1.3 percentage agreement is for an increase?
JL: Of course. The paradox of the negotiations is that what was under the Finnish Presidency was much further away from the position of Parliament although the Parliament has repeatedly confirmed its position – 1.3 and not 1.11 that was original proposal by Oettinger but including European Development Fund and Finland was trying to find agreement at a lower base than Oettinger. I wouldn’t be very optimistic because I’m afraid what happens between the governments is take-it-or-leave-it proposal for the Parliament and then we have a blame game who is really responsible for eventual failure. But if there is no agreement on February 20, I still don’t know whether they’re making one more attempt before the holidays and, if not, we have a treaty without a budget and I’m curious how to build the annual budget 2021 without legal basis.
NE: The Parliament could block it?
JL: It could, but a veto is not always understandable for people, for beneficiaries. They are not interested in this inter-institutional game. They would like to know what is available and what is predictable. The major benefit of the European budget is predictability, multi-annual predictability. Normally investment is about multiannual programmes and here is the difference between national budgets and European budget: It is multiannual, it gives predictability for investment. And they would like to know starting new programming. 2021 is lost as 2014.
NE: Do you expect that by the summer they would have some kind of agreement because it’s multiannual?
JL: This is about political will really and compensations for those who were promised compensations for the Green Deal, like Poland, for example.
NE: Regarding immigration, a lot of countries from the south…
JL: This is absolutely justified, but what they don’t like is a rather egoistic position of my part of Europe, not really sensitive to the problems of Italy, Greece, Spain. So, for them this is difficult to find solidarity with the East again if there is no solidarity the other way.
NE: So basically, the political solution is number one.
JL: This is really about 1 percent of GDP. The European Union is a huge power in regulation and small in budgets. Regulatory super power and small player – nothing comparable to the federal budget of the United States, which I think is a quarter of the GDP.

- Advertisement -

Subscribe to our newsletter

Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

Latest

U.S.-Kazakhstan dialogue on human rights and democratic reforms continues

The United States and Kazakhstan convened the third annual...

Tackling new threats to critical energy infrastructure

The explosions that targeted the Nord Stream pipelines from...

Georgia’s “Foreign Representatives Law” moves forward amid protests

On May 14, Georgia’s parliament approved (84/150) a hotly...

North Macedonia: Sliding back towards the political dark side?

As most analysts predicted after the strong showing of...

Don't miss

U.S.-Kazakhstan dialogue on human rights and democratic reforms continues

The United States and Kazakhstan convened the third annual...

Tackling new threats to critical energy infrastructure

The explosions that targeted the Nord Stream pipelines from...

Georgia’s “Foreign Representatives Law” moves forward amid protests

On May 14, Georgia’s parliament approved (84/150) a hotly...

North Macedonia: Sliding back towards the political dark side?

As most analysts predicted after the strong showing of...

A Green 5+1, regional water issues in Central Asia and previewing next year’s Astana International Forum

Kazakhstan’s Astana International Forum (AIF) has been postponed to 2025, as Astana...

Tackling new threats to critical energy infrastructure

The explosions that targeted the Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Germany in September 2022 and the suspected sabotage of Baltic-connector pipeline, which supplies...

Navigating the climate challenges for COP29

The impacts of climate change have become more evident as greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from human activities cause increased heat, drought, floods etc. Changes...

Uzbekistan to mobilize investment in environmental protection, sustainable development

NE Global sat down for an interview, in the Uzbek capital, during the 3rd Tashkent International Investment Forum (TIIF) with Aziz Abdukhakimov, Uzbekistan's Minister of Ecology,...

U.S.-Ukraine Partnership Forum focuses on engaging the private sector in Ukraine’s Recovery

On April 17, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and USAID, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted...

Kazakhstan focuses on flood recovery

Sweeping across Central Asia, massive floods wreaked havoc in multiple regions of Kazakhstan, leaving thousands of people homeless. The floods are the worst the...

COP 29: Azerbaijan takes the spotlight

The next global climate conference, COP 29, will occur in November in Baku, Azerbaijan. The gathering is essential to continue discussing and developing strategies...

EU, U.S., Uzbekistan and other partners strengthen critical raw materials cooperation

The European Union, the United States, and other Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) partners, joined by Kazakhstan, Namibia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, officially launched the Minerals...

The influence of Russia’s nuclear industry steadily expanding in Turkey

Turkey's decision last month that Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom will build the country’s second nuclear power plant, most likely at a site...