The reform of the 1 trillion euro EU budget 2014-2020 is now moving to a crucial phase: the extraordinary EU summit of 22-23 November, where EU leaders are supposed to find an agreement. In this framework the Cypriot Presidency released at the end of October a new version of the ‘Negotiating box’, the key Council document including key elements on the structure of the next MFF and, for the first time, the big figures for each Heading. Given that all rich MS have made a cut of the overall MFF their top priority, Cyprus unsurprisingly proposes a cut of the Commission’s proposal (of 5%). The bad news relies in what Cyprus proposes to cut in the next EU budget.
The biggest and most controversial part of the MFF, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), is cut the least (-2,7%) followed by the second biggest fund, Cohesion Policy (-3,7%). The funds most severely reduced are Connecting Europe Facility (the infrastructure fund) (-27,7%) followed by the external dimension (-10,8%) and the research and education Heading (-10,3%). Last but not least, even the tiny part of Heading 2 outside CAP, comprising LIFE and the Maritime and Fisheries Fund, is slashed by 5,3%. This merely reflects a business as usual approach based on biggest national vested interest, not on European priorities.
Even if the Cypriot proposal does not entirely offset the improvements made in the Commission’s proposal (which was rather progressive) in term of funds allocations, it is certainly not going in the right dimension. WWF’s goal in the MFF is focused on improving the quality of spending – a global approach entitled “better spending” - by phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies and increasing green subsidies. In practice this has led us to focus on four top priorities in the MFF: include a 20% MFF climate spending commitment, rebalance CAP by increasing the rural development pillar (at least in relative terms), increase LIFE to up to 1% of the MFF, and maintain the good Commission’s proposal for the external dimension (especially development funds). And, yes, WWF’s target of 20% for climate action is close to being achieved, since this was included in the negotiating box which the President of the European Council released on 14 November!
WWF is highly engaged in trying to ensure that the coming negotiation will correct the poor Cypriot approach and increase MFF support for a green economy.