Mind the Gap
Leaving aside all of the economic scaremongering about the state of the UK after Brexit, it’s easy to forget that the EU now has a €60-75bn gap to fill in their next budget now that Boris’s campaign-bus pledge to end British monetary contributions is actually being fulfilled.
Naturally, this is the subject of some controversy amongst member states as they argue over who will have to fork out more cash. And, as discussed before, now that the bill needs to be paid everyone’s making a run for it.
Last week a summit concluded without any agreement at all… which is not unusual when it comes to EU summits. Why do leaders keep coming back you ask? The council provides excellent food, and if discussions don’t start flowing after 7pm or so, a trolley of 10 year old Bordeaux comes to the rescue.
Fine wine or not, so far Denmark, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands have said that they won’t pay any more than 1% of GDP.
The so-called ‘frugal four’ – a name which sounds like perhaps the worst superhero team ever – have joined forces with 17 other member states who are net beneficiaries, including Portugal, Spain, and Greece. They all rejected the proposal to cap spending at %1.069 of GDP.
Emmanuel Macron, self-proclaimed emperor of the Europe, has come forward to criticise these ‘blocking coalitions’ and observed that ‘we don’t need Britain to show disunity’. i.e. We should be perfectly able to show disunity without a ‘rosbif’ in sight.
Meanwhile Chancellor Angela Merkel, agreed that the ‘differences were too big’ to find an accord but that ‘we are going to have to return to the subject’ and probably with more German money.
Britain had enjoyed a rebate on its membership of the European Union, effectively a discount that was negotiated by the original and more successful Theresa May… Margaret Thatcher. Now, the EU is considering whether to allow other members to keep theirs in the next budget.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz summarised European diplomacy at its finest when he stated that two or even three more summits would be needed before an agreement could be reached, remaining optimistic he said that there had been ‘good discussion’.
Unless there is a deal reached by the end of the year the EU will have to start putting its projects on hold… hopefully there will still be enough cash to contain the coronavirus. Then again, if there isn’t, next year’s budget should be significantly smaller anyway.