Netherlands urges more cost-effective, frugal European multi-annual budget
The European multi-annual budget for 2014-2020 should be cost-effective, frugal and pro-growth to make Europe more competitive in a changing world.
This was the message conveyed today in Brussels by European affairs minister Ben Knapen to the Cypriot EU Presidency, in an effort to win support for Dutch aims in the budget negotiations. The Netherlands is the first country consulted by the Cypriot Presidency; Cyprus will hold talks with the other EU member states in the coming weeks.
Mr Knapen stressed that he cannot agree to an increase in the EU budget. On the contrary, the Netherlands wants to see at least a €100 billion decrease from the European Commission’s proposal of June 2011. ‘In this time of cutbacks in the member states, Europe has to tighten its belt as well,’ said the minister. The Netherlands is also demanding an extension of the reduction in the Dutch contribution to the EU.
Furthermore, said Mr Knapen, the EU budget has to be reformed. Of the current budget, 70% goes to agriculture and the Structural Funds. He argued for a different allocation of resources, more focused on research, education and innovation, which are needed to get Europe’s economies going again.
Having taken the EU Presidency over from Denmark on 1 July, Cyprus will be responsible for the next six months for organising the talks on the multi-annual budget. Besides his Cypriot counterpart Andreas Mavroyiannis, Mr Knapen also spoke with European MPs Jean-Luc Dehaene and Reimer Böge. The outcome of the budget talks, which should be completed by the end of 2012, must be approved by a majority of the European Parliament.