Five EU countries ‘refuse’ to fill Brexit budget gap

Sweden, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark have been listed as countries that are unwilling to make up the budget shortfall from Brexit.

It is understood that the position of the countries was outlined by EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger at an Agriculture Committee meeting in Brussels today.

The listed countries want to stick to their current EU budget contribution arrangements, AgriLand understands.

Commissioner Oettinger highlighted that, although Austria doesn’t want CAP cuts, the country is not in favour of paying more.

Parliamentary sources have also said that Germany is showing resistance to upping its contribution to fill the gap.

Last month, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, urged the EU’s 27 member states to pay more money into the EU’s joint budget – which is facing a €13 billion black hole after the UK leaves.

The move by these countries not to consider offering an increased contribution to the EU budget mounts further pressure of the future funding of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The estimated British net contribution to CAP amounts to €3 billion annually.

The CAP represents almost 40% of the EU budget and provides financial support for farmers and wider rural development funding.

Last week, an EU Commission budget document proposed three potential options for the future of the CAP budget post-2020; as its coffers come under increased pressure due to emerging funding priorities in areas such as security and migration.

The draft options include: maintaining funding at existing levels, which would represent 37% of EU budget; reducing support by 30%, which would generate €120 billion in savings; and reducing support by 15%, which would generate €60 billion in savings.

‘Budget shouldn’t be slashed’

Earlier this week, Mairead McGuinness, first vice-president of the European Parliament, stated that cutting CAP is “not the way forward”.

“For farmers the most important issue for the future is securing a strong budget for agriculture,” she said.

She outlined that cutting the budget would “fly in the face of demands” from farmers, who have been calling for an increase in the CAP budget at consultation meetings held around the country in recent weeks.

The Fine Gael MEP for the Midlands-North West region stressed that new demands in agriculture means that more investment is needed.

In agriculture, there are new demands to be met – including climate action – yet there are insufficient calls for new funds to meet these challenges.

The MEP intends to raise this issue with the commissioner this week; plus she will give him feedback on Irish farmer views made during the nationwide CAP consultation roadshow.

The final CAP public consultation meeting will take place tonight at the McWilliam Park Hotel, Kilcolman Road, Claremorris, Co. Mayo at 8:00pm.