Representatives of all 16 countries participating in the EU Friends of Cohesion summit, which took place in Bratislava on October 5, signed a joint declaration, which agrees with the proposed European Commission budget for 2014-20. Yet, they also declared that there is no scope for further cuts in the means allocated on cohesion purposes, the TASR newswire reported.
The delegates from 15 EU countries and Croatia, which will join the union next year, sought to voice their disapproval with the European Commission’s suggestion to allocate €339 billion of the overall €1 trillion budget for cohesion investments. The amount is 4.5 percent lower than the sum allocated in the previous budgetary term.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico described the session as highly successful, while President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said it was an extraordinarily efficient meeting, as well as important for the budget preparation process.
Schulz emphasised that the new budget must be pragmatic and fair and said that over the past few years, bigger and stronger states tended to force their will upon the others instead of searching for a compromise.
“We need a pragmatic approach instead of an ideological one,” he said, as quoted by TASR. “MEPs are ready for cost-saving if some member states tell us that they are reducing specific projects. But we will not cut the money for cohesion funds [any further].”
EU leaders should come to an agreement on the EU budget for 2014-20 as soon as possible in order to show that the EU is able to make difficult decisions, said EC President Jose Manuel Barroso, during the summit. He added that a special EU summit is to take place in Brussels in November that will enable member states to finalise their budget-related negotiations. In this regard, Barroso expressed his belief that members will be able to agree on an “ambitious and realistic budget for Europe”, TASR wrote.
The discussion on the EU budget will be difficult, according to Maroš Šefčovič, European Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration and the vice president of the EC. Thus, he added, it is good that the EU Friends of Cohesion sent out a joint signal about their respect toward the Commission’s proposal.
“Regarding the fact that they acted jointly, and that the EP and EC share the opinion with the 15 EU member states [the friends], I believe this will improve the negotiating position and the result will be much better than it would have been without them communicating with one another,” said Šefčovič, as quoted by TASR.
The summit was interrupted by an incident when all the delegates had to evacuate the Bratislava Castle after the police announced a bomb scare. The warning came when the talks of the EU politicians had already ended, TASR wrote.
Yet, the police did not find any bombs at the venue and launched a criminal prosecution over the hoax call. The police later identified the person as a 22-year-old man from Žilina Region.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.