Climate becomes top priority in EU’s 2020 budget

EU Budget Commissioner, German, Gunther Oettinger gives a press conference on 2019 draft EU budget at the European Commission in Brussels on 22 May 2018. [EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ]

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (5 June) a budget worth €168.3 billion for the bloc in 2020, aimed at promoting a more competitive European economy and solidarity and security in the EU. This is the last budget under the 2014-2020 fiscal period and put climate change at the top of the agenda.

As much as 21% of the proposed budget will be devoted to climate change issues.

If EU member states accept the 21% figure, that will ensure that the EU reaches a 19.7% average spend on climate change policies over the current seven-year EU budget , Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger told a press conference, meeting its target of 20%.

The budget is based on the assumption that the UK will continue to participate in its implementation and financing as if it were a member state, even though the UK is scheduled to leave the EU after 31 October. In terms of commitments, the proposed budget amounts to €168.3 billion, a 1.3% increase on 2019.

Responding to a question about which part of the 2020 budget he thought would be most problematic, Oettinger said: “I think our budget is not problematic, it’s based on a framework, we know our priorities. If the UK was to leave with no deal, we would lose €12 billion from a net payer. (…) This would be the main problem.”

In terms of payments, the budget amounts to €153.7 billion, 3.5% higher than last year’s figures. Overall, the budget represents 1% of EU GNI (Gross National Income) and 2% of EU public spending.

Out of the €168.3 billion in commitments, €83 billion will be allocated to boosting economic growth and supporting young people. Some €13.2 billion will be given to research and innovation under the programme Horizon 2020, a 6.4% increase on 2019.

According to the Parliament’s rapporteur and vice-chair of the budget committee, Monika Hohlmeier, “the reinforcement of innovation and research is one of the most important goals of the European Parliament for the last five years.”

€2.8 billion will go to the Erasmus student exchange programme and €117 million to the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). This will bring the total funding for YEI to €4.5 billion for the 2014-2020 period.

The global satellite navigation system Galileo will see its budget increase by 75% compared to 2019, bringing it to €1.2 billion in total. Finally, the European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP) will receive €255 million.

When it comes to strengthening security and solidarity in the EU and beyond, €420.6 million, 34% more than in 2019, will be allocated to Frontex, the EU’s border agency. This follows an agreement reached in March 2019 by the European Parliament and EU governments, which envisioned the set-up of a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027.

The new rescEU programme will receive €156.2 million in order to help it better tackle earthquakes, wildfire and other natural disasters. €560 million of humanitarian aid has been allocated to support those affected by the ongoing war in Syria.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic and Benjamin Fox]

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