Honoring the war name of the side to which it belongs (the frugal club), the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has brought an apple and a voluminous biography of the composer Frédéric Chopin to spend the endless dead hours at the summit on the multiannual budget of the EU for 2021-2027 that began this Thursday in Brussels. "I don't know what I'm going to have to discuss", he explained to journalists.
The compromise proposal presented by the President of the European Council, the former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, to try to reach an agreement – which provides for an expenditure ceiling of 1,074% of GDP, that is 1.094 billion euros for seven years- it has provoked an almost universal rejection among the Twenty-seven, although for opposite reasons.
The net beneficiaries of European aid, among them Spain, consider the proposed cuts in agriculture (14%) and cohesion (12%) excessive. The rich countries of frugal club they demand that the ax be even greater: they don't want to pay the hole of up to 12,000 million euros left by the brexit in the community coffers.
To make matters worse, European leaders have also pissed off the Michel's method of negotiation, the "confessional": go summoning them one by one late in the morning to try to force them to give up their red lines. "If I were president of the Government and he quotes me at five in the morning and he doesn't pay much attention to me, I would not be very happy. That may work in Belgium but not here," explains a diplomat.
It's Alan Walker, but for now we haven’t been asked to bring it up yet 😉 pic.twitter.com/bUYZwv2I4u
– Netherlands at the EU (@NLatEU) February 20, 2020
The poor negotiating expertise by Charles Michel and the irreconcilable differences between frugal club (which in addition to Holland are Sweden, Denmark and Austria and with which Germany and Finland sympathize) and the friends of cohesion and the CAP (the side of Spain, France or Portugal) lead the budget summit to an almost assured failure in the coming hours.
Only 20% of delegations believe that an agreement on the budget is possible at this summit, according to the sources consulted. The central scenario is that Michel makes a final attempt by presenting a new compromise proposal in the next few hours, that there is a final debate on this proposal and that the European Council dissolve on Friday afternoon with no results. "If he achieves an agreement he would be a magician", the sources point out.
The worst scenario for Sánchez would be for Michel to listen to the frugal club and propose more cuts in the funds from which Spain benefits most: the CAP and cohesion. "We believe that we can reduce spending on cohesion and agriculture", the Swedish Prime Minister, the socialist Stefan Löfven, has claimed on behalf of his partners. He claims that it is about" modernizing the budget. "A euphemism to defend that less should be invested in these traditional items and more in digitalization, security or fight against climate change.
"It seems good to us to be net contributors, it is a matter of solidarity. But we cannot accept a dramatic increase in our contribution," protests Löfven. A position that Rutte fully matches, which claims a spending ceiling of 1% of GDP (compared to the current 1.16%), checks to compensate net taxpayers and "that the budget is modernized, with a greater focus on the rule of law, migration, innovation and climate".
"Spain is not going to be one of the biggest losers of this summit," sources from Moncloa answer. Upon arrival at the summit, the President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, crossed out Charles Michel’s commitment proposal of “highly disappointing” because ”significantly reduces fundamental policies for Spain, as are the cohesion policies and the CAP "." We are working so that the cut for farmers is zero, "said the government sources consulted.
In the fight to preserve agricultural aid, Sanchez has practically the only Portuguese allies, António Costa, and the French president, Emmanuel Macron. "France's position on this budget is first of all to have a CAP that lives up to our ambitions," said Macron. "This is essential for our food sovereignty. and to have an agriculture that gives us quality food and contributes to the climate transition, "he alleges.
As for regional funds, Spain collaborates and at the same time competes with the Eastern countries: Collaborate to try to minimize the cut but compete in the distribution of money. "The negotiations are difficult because some Member States are committed to new objectives and want to reduce spending on agriculture and cohesion policy. We do not want a revolution in the structure of the multiannual financial framework," said the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who also complains about frugal club.
Despite aligning with net taxpayers since Germany is the country that pays the most, Angela Merkel He has preferred to stay in the background. "I hope we will make important progress. It is a complicated task and certainly we have to overcome great differences," explained the German chancellor.
"The positions of the Member States are far apart, so we will have to see if we will reach an agreement this week or we will have to continue later, "admits Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
The only one who has explicitly wielded the threat of veto has been the president of the European Parliament, the Italian socialist David Sassoli. But at the moment nobody believes it because the European Parliament has never dared to knock down a budgetary agreement of the heads of State and Government.
"There is a large majority willing to reject any proposal on the financial framework that does not take into account the position of Parliament, "said Sassoli. The European Chamber asks to raise the spending limit to 1.3% of GDP so that the EU can finance all the tasks it has undertaken to undertake. A proposal that seen the seen is almost certainly not prosper.