EU27 to fill €11bn gap in case of 'no deal'

2020 budget: Council proposes €410m less for research

Photo: EU Kimmo Tiilikainen

There will be a net gap of about €11bn in next year's EU budget if the divorce with the UK goes through without a deal, and if when exiting the country does not accept all the rights and obligations to the budgetary framework. Guenther Oettinger, the EU Commissioner in charge of Budget and Human Resources, pointed out this figure at a debate at the EP plenary session in Strasbourg following the Council presentation of its position on the 2020 budget. 

According to him, the most workable approach to finance the Brexit gap will be 50:50, meaning half of this money to be economised and another half to be covered by additional payments that the Member States should top up to their annual contributions.

Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen from Finland's Presidency of the Council told MEPs that after careful reflection and analysis, the Council proposes for next year a budget of €167bn in commitment appropriations. This is an increase of 0.6% compared to the budget voted in 2019, he noted. Saying that “we must ensure that it is focused on European added value and delivers tangible results for our citizens,” the minister accented that 2020 is the last year of the current MFF when many important European programmes will gradually come to their completion.

Strengthening the European economy, boosting its competitiveness, ensuring sufficient funding for migration and protection of the external borders, and tackling environmental challenges and climate change are the common priorities that the Council wants the EU budget to continue to focus on.

Member States propose an adjustment of the commitment appropriations as presented by the Commission in a draft budget for 2020 of €1.5bn. This is not a cut in the budget but a reduction in the increase, Minister Tiilikainen explained, noting that compared to 2019, the EU budget will increase by €1bn.

The resources dedicated to economic, social and territorial cohesion will increase by 2.23% in 2020, totalling €58.5bn. On the migration and security front, the Council foresees extra money for Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency - more than 30% compared to this year - in order to set up the standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027. The Council expects the final agreement on 2020 EU budget to be reached in November.

Putting his finger on some of the cuts proposed, Commissioner Oettinger said that the executive considers the reduction by €410m in Horizon 2020 unfounded. He also touched upon enabling technologies, such as nano, micro, laser and biotechnologies, where Europe is lagging behind USA and China, but the Council suggests 20% cuts. “Is this a really smart decision?” he asked. Considerable reductions would have to be made in the field of AI. There will be €118m less for the European Research Council, that means 80 research projects will be scrapped, he warned.

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