One of the top priorities on the agenda of the latest informal meeting of the European Council held in Brussels in late February was the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF)
Talks between European leaders focused on the timetable for negotiations, the political priorities that will shape the future structure of the EU budget and EU budget size after 2020. The European Commission wants negotiations over the upcoming MFF to end before the European elections, scheduled for May-June 2019.
Under these circumstances, the post-2020 financial framework is particularly important for Romania, as it will be one of the main dossiers Romania will oversee during its term at the helm of the European Council, in the first half of 2019.
Iuliu Winkler, a Romanian MEP with the European People’s Party and vice-president of Parliament’s International Trade Committee, told us more about the main tendencies regarding the upcoming MFF.
Iuliu Winkler: “There are many scenarios about the post-2020 multi-annual financial framework, and they’re all more or less negative for Romania and states in Central and Eastern Europe. There is one scenario according to which this region would get less funding, as the overall budget will go down with Brexit. As there aren’t other sources to offset this hole in the budget, there will be obvious budget cuts. According to another harsh scenario, funding for regional development projects should be linked to the results obtained in reforming the judiciary and the rule of law, to observing the principles of the rule of law, which will definitely bring about a number of problems in the case of states in Central and Eastern Europe. Another scenario looks at budget expenses, which are tied not just to Brexit, but to the need for additional financial resources linked to the challenges of migration and the European Union’s new defense policy, as well as to the European Neighborhood Policy”.
A number of high-level politicians, President Klaus Iohannis included, have said that for Romania, the top priorities in negotiating the future Multiannual Financial Framework are the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy. Romanian MEP Iuliu Winkler tells us what needs to be done so that Romania’s objective to maintain or even increase funds is reached:
Iuliu Winkler: “We must be very present in the upcoming weeks and months. The Government needs to be present in the talks with the European Commission and the Romanian diplomacy must be very present in the Council, as many decisions are taken there. Also, in the European Parliament, we must come up with arguments related to the regional development policy, which is the most important investment policy, and to the fact that it has a multiplication effect. This effect has been proven, over the past few years, by the implementation of the regional development policy. We must also deal with a disadvantageous situation, namely the fact that Romania is asking for more funds, Romania is asking for a future for the cohesion policy, while at the same time it is lagging behind when it comes to EU funds absorption. So we have problems and this argument of funds efficiency or inefficiency in the case of Romania is a compelling argument. So the Government, county councils and all players involved in using cohesion and regional development funds must do everything in their power so that we can significantly increase the absorption rate in 2018. I believe we will succeed, together with our allies - allies that we need to keep close, because it is not only Romania’s interest but there is a joint interest of Central and Eastern European countries after all - and with a more honest and efficient policy and more dialogue, to avoid all these threats to the future Multiannual Financial Framework, that is to the future of Romania. We should get to the point where, even after 2020, we can count on having regional development projects financed.”
Worth mentioning is that the European Commission will make an official proposal this May as regards the Union’s next long-term budget.