General Affairs Council discusses EU Multiannual Financial Framework
State Secretary Matej Marn attended the EU General Affairs Council discussing the negotiating framework on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) within the preparations for the European Council meeting. The compromise proposal presented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, is unfit for Slovenia as it fails to address the country's key negotiation priorities.
The Member States held the first discussion on the MFF based on the negotiating proposal drafted by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Michel’s compromise proposal envisages the total budget sum at 1,094 billion euros, representing 1.074% of EU GNI, which is 40 billion euros less funding than originally proposed by the Commission. Despite the demands made by 15 cohesion countries, including Slovenia, that the MFF should remain at the amount proposed by the Commission, the cohesion funds have decreased by 7.5 billion euros, disproportionally affecting certain Member States.
According to Slovenia, the compromise proposal still requires a great deal of work, since it fails to address the country’s principal priorities. However, slight improvements in cohesion policy, as compared to the Finnish Presidency's proposal, have increased, to a certain extent, the cohesion funds for Slovenia. Nevertheless, the reduction of cohesion funds for Slovenia is still too big, leaving western Slovenia issues unresolved. In comparison to the previous Finnish proposal, the new proposal even reduces funds for rural development.
State Secretary Marn reiterated the issue of new statistical data usage, decisively affecting the amount of cohesion funds for Slovenia: “A significant decrease of cohesion funds at the national and regional levels must be avoided. The latter applies especially for western Slovenia which, as a result of the Commission’s proposal, stands to lose the most due to its development.” He was also dissatisfied with the fact that the proposal still envisages the possibility of rebates for some Member States.
During the discussions, Slovenia reiterated its plea for an increase in funds for rural development policy, which have seen the biggest decrease of all EU programmes in the current MFF proposal. Additional funds are especially needed by countries like Slovenia, where the discussed policy plays a vital role in common agricultural policy.
Discrepancies have been revealed between the biggest net contributors to the EU budget and the biggest recipients of cohesion funds, mostly concerning the MFF budget and the amount of funds allocated to traditional policies (cohesion and common agricultural policies), as well as the new challenges (climate change, migration, digitisation, security policy, etc.). The Member States also disagree on whether rebates for the biggest net contributors should be preserved.
At the extraordinary session of the European Council on Thursday, Slovenia will insist that an appropriate solution be found for issues related to cohesion policy funds, the treatment of western Slovenia cohesion region and the extent of funds for rural development.