A summit on the EU’s next budget cycle, 2021-2027, begun on Thursday afternoon, had all the makings of a tricky discussion, but European Council President Charles Michel was confident it could be successful.
“I feel there is a positive will to keep working, discussing, negotiating so as to take a decision,” he told journalists on arriving at the venue of the summit on Thursday at around midday.
The heads of State and Government of the 27 member States were scheduled to discuss a compromise proposal he presented last week with a view to coming up with a joint position, a quantified framework that gives both a global budget and a breakdown showing the distribution of the budget between projects and programmes.
The special summit on the multi-annual financial framework comes after weeks of bilateral discussions held by the Council President. “In the last weeks we have worked very hard with all the leaders and I am grateful to the leaders for the hard work we’ve done together,” Michel said. “There are many interests, many concerns, and they are all legitimate, but I am convinced that it’s possible to make progress in the next few hours or in the next few days.”
There have been strong divergences between member States such as the “frugal four” – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden – that wish to limit the global EU budget to 1% of the gross national income of the 27 – and others that highlight the importance of strong historic policies such as those on cohesion and agriculture.
However, Charles Michel said he was “convinced that everything is on the table in order to decide.”
The discussions were expected to continue even beyond Friday.