The chairperson of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets has said that the proposed budget for the EU – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – should not be accepted.

Johann Van Overtveldt – who is also the head of the European Parliament’s MFF negotiating team – called the proposals “disappointing” and argued that they would “prevent the EU from achieving its adjectives”.

The proposed MFF is set to go before a European Council budget summit this Thursday, February 20. Van Overtveldt argued that this summit “should not conclude any agreement on the basis of such a proposal”.

If we do not decide to invest together now, we will pay a higher price later. While the current consensus provided an opportunity to shape the right budget for the coming decade, the proposal seriously undermines the credibility of the new political agenda and of the EU institutions.

“Those who are excessively focused on ‘how much I give – and how much I get back’ are missing the point. The union budget finances common goods and common policies. The benefits of belonging to the single market and to the European political project largely outweigh the cost of contributing to its budget,” argued Van Overtfeldt, who is a former Minister of Finance for Belgium.

“We are in favour of a quick agreement on the MFF. But not at any cost. Therefore, I call on the heads of state and governments not to conclude any agreement on the basis of such a proposal that fully disregards the parliament’s position and prevents the union from achieving its objectives,” he added.

“I call instead on [European Council President Charles Michel] and the leaders to think beyond narrow, short-term national interests, and substantially improve this proposal in the interest of Europe as a whole,” Van Overtfeldt concluded.

Taoiseach’s response

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will, for his part, be arguing that Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding “should be maintained at least at its existing level” at an upcoming European Council meeting later this week.

Speaking in advance of this week’s EU Council meeting on the European budget, the taoiseach has repeated his commitment to fight to retain the current level of CAP funding.

“We face a real battle as many other countries want to reduce the budget for CAP and divert it to other areas.

“I will be arguing in Brussels that CAP funding should be maintained at least at its existing level,” the taoiseach said.