EU ministers debate 2014-2020 budget cuts

As negotiations over the European Union’s 2014-2020 budget continues, some aid groups are concerned the bloc’s development spending is heading to the chopping block.

briefing paper prepared by Cyprus, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, suggests a proposal to reduce the overall EU budget for 2014-2020 is on the table. The paper, which was used to guide a recent informal meeting of EU ministers, recognizes a need to adjust downward the total level of the multiannual financial framework proposed by the European Commission given the region’s financial uncertainties. This was based on bilateral meetings Cyprus had with other EU member states, the paper notes.

Nikos Christodoulides, a spokesman of the permanent representation of Cyprus to the European Union, did clarify to Devex that there were no numbers or figures discussed during the informal meeting held Aug. 20 in Cyprus.

EU member states expressed their positions on the total level of the 2014-2020 financial framework and the budget proposed in different accounts, among other issues covered by the briefing paper, Christodoulides said. He did not elaborate on the details of the member states’ positions.

Proposed EU development spending for 2014-2020 is outlined under heading four of the multiannual financial framework. The budget for the European Development Fund, however, is not covered as it is financed separately by EU member states.

Informal ministerial meetings like the one in Cyprus cannot take binding decisions, and are instead designed to facilitate debate, according to Susanne Kiefer, foreign affairs press officer at the Council of the European Union. Positions raised during the meeting would guide further budget negotiations, which Kiefer said are set to continue in the next months.

EU ministers will convene for another meeting on Sept. 24. EU heads of state, meanwhile, will meet Nov. 22-23 for a summit focused on the budget, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy tweeted Monday (Sept. 3). Kiefer said an agreement on the 2014-2020 budget is expected by the end of the year.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.