EU presidency puts forward revised budget proposal
by Maria Myles
Brussels, Dec 14 (CNA) - The UK presidency of the European Union put forward today a revised proposal for the EU budget in the next financial period 2007-2013, which it has circulated to all member states.
Cyprus is studying the proposal to assess its content before it takes a stance at Thursday's European Council meeting, which President Tassos Papadopoulos will attend.
The revised proposal provides for a 2.5 billion euro increase in EU expenditure compared to the initial proposal, bringing up the EU expenditure to 849.303 million euro. The additional 2.5 billion euro will be distributed to seven of the eight new members, Slovenia being the excluded country.
As far as Cyprus is concerned, the proposal refers to revised statistics for the period 1997-1999 which indicate that it was wrong not to include Cyprus in objective 1 (mass community funding) for the period 2004-2006. To rectify this injustice, Cyprus will benefit from community funding from objective 1 for the years 2007-2013.
Cyprus is set to get between 300 and 350 million euro during the seven year period.
The revised budget proposals maintain the four policy objectives set out in an earlier proposal Britain had put forward. These relate to a tough budget discipline and to assistance to new member states in the enlarged EU by building their economies and societies. Also the rebate will rise from an annual average over recent years of 5 billion euros to around 7 billion. The objectives ensure that there can be no fundamental change in the rebate without fundamental reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. All spending, including on agriculture, will be subject to a review during the coming budget period.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said that he remained convinced that these proposals are good for Britain and good for Europe, and offer a sound basis for agreement at this week's European Council.
The proposal stipulates that states will now have more time to absorb EU funding, instead of the two-year period they had to comply with from the date the funds were released.
The British EU presidency makes no further concession on the issue of the rebates it is receiving from Brussels. It maintains its initial offer to reduce the rebates by 8 billion euro throughout the period 2007-2013. Britain is set to get 54 billion euro.
On agricultural expenditure, funds for agricultural development will be cut by 7 billion euro.
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the revised proposal has introduced changes which he said are not sufficient. He also said that there is a need to reach agreement at this summit, noting that it is necessary for internal cohesion and strengthening EU presence on the world stage.