The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) was most recently discussed at the October European Council where Leaders exchanged views on key issues such as the overall level of expenditure, the volumes of expenditure in the main policy areas, the financing - including revenues and corrections - as well as the conditionalities and incentives. In light of this discussion, it called on the Presidency to submit a Negotiating Box with figures ahead of the European Council in December 2019.
The October discussion largely reiterated the differences between Member States on the key issues. There was no narrowing of views on the overall level of expenditure, with a number of net contributors reiterating the need to keep the overall level at 1% of EU GNI, while there was strong push back from the net recipients on the Presidency proposals which they consider too low, they argue for an overall level of 1.11% of EU GNI. On the allocation of volumes between areas, net recipients expressed strong dissatisfaction regarding proposals on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Cohesion which they see as requiring further increases to the Commission’s proposals, for Cohesion in particular.
Given that Member States did not move beyond their traditional positions on the above, it is not possible to say who would be willing to increase contributions in order to fund CAP under a given scenario. A key element for consideration in the upcoming negotiations will be the nature of adjustments to the CAP, or any other policy area. For instance, all the cuts applied to CAP could be made up without any commensurate increase to contributions, if adjustments are made elsewhere in the MFF.
For Ireland, the CAP remains the a key national priority for the negotiations. Expenditure in the area of agriculture helps support 44 million jobs across the EU, while contributing to European Added Value (EAV) through rural sustainability, food safety, animal welfare, and environmental standards.
In relation to contributions, in his intervention at the October European Council, the Taoiseach noted that while Ireland’s contribution is likely to increase significantly, we need to focus on the benefits and not just the costs of EU membership, including access to the Single Market which vastly outweighs EU Budget contributions. While Ireland has not yet finalised a view on the appropriate overall level of expenditure in the next MFF, we support the efforts of the Presidency to progress negotiations towards agreement and will continue to engage constructively.