Discussion of EU’s multiannual budget in Brussels today
Slovenian prime minister Marjan Šarec is attending the second day of the regular meeting of the European Council in Brussels.
The leaders began the first day of the meeting with a discussion of the draft agreement on the British withdrawal from the EU that the EU negotiators and the United Kingdom reached on Thursday morning. They agreed that the agreement is a good compromise that takes into account all of the key elements required to ensure the integration of the internal market. At the same time, it is also acceptable to Ireland. The following elements are of key importance: Northern Ireland continues to be subject to a limited number of European rules regarding trade, and remains part of the United Kingdom’s customs area, the issue of value added tax has been resolved satisfactorily and the role of the Northern Irish authorities has been agreed on. The agreement will enter into force if the British Parliament votes in favour of it this Saturday and the European Parliament ratifies it next week.
The leaders continued the meeting with a discussion on the initiation of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. The Slovenian prime minister once again emphasised the importance of expansion into the Western Balkans in order to ensure a strong and unified Europe. Before the EU summit, he sent a letter to the leaders of the Member States and the President of the European Council in which he stressed that there is no alternative to expansion into the Western Balkans, as there is no other process that would provide for the region’s stabilisation and transformation.
After yesterday’s discussion, the European Council did not give a green light to the initiation of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. “We regret that the European Council has once again failed to adopt a decision to initiate accession negotiations with the countries in question, particularly North Macedonia, which has taken historic steps and has met all of the EU’s conditions,” said the prime minister at the end of the meeting in Brussels.
Later on the first day the leaders also discussed relations with Turkey. They unanimously condemned Turkey’s military activities in Syria and were briefed on the temporary cease fire.
On the second day they discussed the EU’s strategic agenda, and spent the middle part of the day exchanging views on the EU’s multiannual financial framework 2021–2027. Prime minister Šarec highlighted Slovenia’s main positions and expectations regarding the upcoming negotiations. He advocated reaching an agreement as quickly as possible, and noted that Slovenia wants to see a balanced financial framework capable of meeting the challenges currently faced by the European Union, but one that will not lead to a further reduction in cohesion policy and rural development funds.
They concluded that the presiding country must submit a comprehensive negotiations package containing concrete numbers to the EU Council by the next meeting.