Only two days before EU leaders will hold talks on the next 7-year EU budget, MEPs on Tuesday threatened to veto the eventual agreement if further cuts are made.
Some member states, like the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden, have expressed their wish to slash the budget by an additional 30 billion euros. They argue that EU expenditure should be in line with national austerity policies.
“Today’s proposal is actually an act of political resignation, and we are going to reject it”, EPP leader Joseph Daul said.
(…)I fear there is actual budget ‘fraud’ which is going to be perpetrated on Friday. Because the budget commitments are going to be put at the level desired by the cohesion countries and the payments will be at the level desired by contributor countries.”, ALDE’s leader Guy Verhofstadt said.
The threat came after an unusual visit by French President Francois Hollande to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
After positioning himself as a defender of growth and European solidarity, Hollande took aim at the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron and reaffirmed his position against the UK rebate.
Cameron has repeatedly said that getting a rebate is a pre-condition for any agreement on the EU budget.
“(…) It is legitimate for countries with serious deficits to rebounce their public finances, France supports that approach but at the same time we need to be asking Europe to try and maintain a level of spending that could keep economic activity going.”, French President Francois Hollande said.
“(…) We shouldn’t call for a cheque or a rebate because that would mean that Mrs Thatcher’s ideas have won out, when everyone is going to come and ask for a faire return for their contributions.”, French President Francois Hollande said.
France is also fighting to preserve subsidies for agricultural activities, as the largest benefactor of this funding. But Hollande suggested that Paris might be ready to accept a reduction.
“I can’t deny the fact that many heads of governments defend mainly their national interests over and above European interests, but, I can not accept that France, today, will be ready to sacrifice growth at the altar of the CAP . The CAP will see a drop in its appropriations, as compared to the Commission proposal. That will mean difficult restructuring in a sector which is absolutely essential in our country”, French President Francois Hollande said.
European leaders already met in November to reach a deal on the EU budget but failed to do so.