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Local leaders, MEPs and EU Commissioner warn Member States: Europe cannot afford more delays and cuts to future EU budget  
European citizens want to live in a greener more inclusive and smarter continent and demand the EU play its part by providing sufficient investment. This is why, during the European Committee of the Regions' plenary session (CoR) held in Brussels today, local and regional leaders, the EU's budget Commissioner and leading members of the European Parliament urged national governments to drop any tactical positioning and agree a timely and forward looking agreement on the EU budget 2021-2027.

EU's regional and local leaders raised serious concerns about the sluggish speed of the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), which sets the expenditure ceilings for all EU policies over the years 2021-2027, during debates with EU budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger and the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee for Regional Development (REGI), Younous Omarjee. The cuts initially proposed by the European Commission also risk being much deeper if Member States do not agree to increase their contributions and introduce new revenues, such as plastic or web taxes, to fund new policies and fill the financial gap left by Brexit.

"Austerity, stifling public investment and a lack of European solidarity has held back economic growth, social progress and regional equality which has exacerbated populism. The decision on the next EU budget will now be the ultimate test of the new European leadership and define the level of the EU's ambition for the coming years. Cuts will hold back the ability of regions and cities to deliver an inclusive, cohesive and sustainable future at a time when citizens demand results", CoR President Karl-Heinz Lambertz said. He added that EU national contributions of 1% of the EU27's Gross National Income (GNI) – demanded by increasing number of national government– would be "pitiful for 500 million Europeans" as he reiterated the CoR's call for a budget worth 1.3% of EU27 GNI, a position shared by the European Parliament

During the debate, Commissioner Oettinger explained that without securing EU27 national contributions of at least 1.114% of GNI in the next multiannual EU budget, as initially proposed by the European Commission, the support for the new EU priorities would be severely impaired. "Those who want to reduce the EU budget to 1% of the EU27 GNI ignore the need to provide a response to Europe’s new challenges and the Brexit gap which alone will leave a shortfall of €84bn over the next seven years".

He called on local and regional leaders to pressure their national governments to no longer delay making a decision on the next EU budget, "It is already 5 to midnight. If a decision is not agreed by the end of the year, we risk a significant delay in the start of the implementation of the new programmes that is even more needed as Europe is facing economic stagnation.”

REGI chair, Younous Omarjee, said: "The European Union's goal is to build an economy that delivers cohesion, serving the regions, territories and their citizens. Cohesion should not be at the service of economy but, on the contrary, the economy should be at the service of cohesion. We should not forget to remind the Heads of State and government and the European Commission of this".

The risk of further reductions to European Structural and Investment Funds were also discussed the day before on Tuesday 7 October, in a joint meeting between the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development and the CoR's Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget organised in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2019.

Contact:

Pierluigi Boda
Tél. +32 2 282 2461
Mobile: +32 473 85 17 43
pierluigi.boda@cor.europa.eu