The Slovenia Times

Govt adopts positions for final stage of EU budget talks


The draft negotiating positions on the Council's proposal for the multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2027 and guidelines for the final stage of talks will now be debated by the National Assembly before EU leaders, among them PM Marjan Ĺ arec, discuss the proposal in Brussels next week.

The Finnish presidency has proposed a budget of EUR 1.087 billion for the seven-year period, equal to 1.07% of the gross national income (GNI) of the 27 EU member states, that is excluding the UK.

The European Commission last year proposed a seven-year budget of 1.11% of the EU's GNI, roughly at the level of the current multi-year budget and about EUR 48 billion more than what the presidency is now proposing.

The European Parliament is advocating a larger budget, equalling to 1.3% of the EU's GNI, while net contributors to the budget such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland would like to reduce it to around 1% of the bloc's GNI, or roughly EUR 100 billion below the Commission's proposal.

The Finnish presidency has proposed additional cuts to cohesion funds; these are to amount to EUR 323 billion at constant prices, 12% less than in the current seven-year budget.

The Commission last year proposed a cut of about 10% compared to the 2014-2020 period, or a total of about EUR 331 billion for cohesion policy.

Under the Commission's proposal, Slovenia would get EUR 3.07 billion in cohesion funds in the 2021-2027 period, 9% less than in the current period.

The cut proposed by the Commission for Slovenia is less substantial than those for other Central and East European countries, however, due to the strong economic growth in recent years, Slovenia could lose even more.

Coupled with the cuts proposed by the Finnish presidency, unofficial sources say that the reduction affecting Slovenia could be substantial.

Then there is the status of Zahodna Slovenija (West Slovenia), one of Slovenia's two cohesion regions, which has exceeded the EU average in GDP per capita.

With the end of the current budget period, the transition period negotiated by Slovenia for this region that gives it a slightly better position in EU funds phasing is coming to an end.

The Finnish presidency proposes EUR 334 billion for agricultural support and development, which is EUR 10 billion more than in the Commission's proposal, mainly due to an increase in funds for regional development.

This latter proposal would come welcome for Slovenia, which has been trying to negotiate the lowest possible reduction in funds for regional development.

However, it is cohesion funds which are the major source of EU funds for Slovenia, so the country's priorities would be to ease the cut to cohesion funds and achieve the best deal for Zahodna Slovenija.

In the efforts to prevent additional cuts to cohesion funds in comparison to the Commission's proposal, Slovenia has linked up with the group of like-minded countries, Friends of Cohesion.

Slovenia is allying with some of the member states such as Spain, Croatia and Cyprus affected by statistics and some other elements in the calculation of their eligibility for cohesion funds.

The EU summit next week will have the first discussion on the Finnish presidency's proposal for the multi-annual financial framework, but more proposals are expected to follow.

In the best-case scenario, member countries could hammer out an agreement on the budget by February or March next year, after which it will also need to be endorsed by the European Parliament, which is rather unpredictable after the latest EU elections.

Unless an agreement is reached soon enough in 2020, the many procedures involved could cause a delay in the implementation of the new budget period.


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