New European Union Budget Must Raise EU’s Competitiveness
At today’s European Union General Affairs Council in Brussels, the principles for the next European Union financial framework (2014-2020) were discussed. The ministers of foreign and European affairs agreed that the new budget must contribute to economic growth and competitiveness.
Estonian Ambassador to the European Union Matti Maasikas, who represented Estonia at the council meeting, said that Estonia sees the European Union budget first and foremost as a budget for investments, since administrative costs make up only a small proportion of it. “This is why we must find a balance between the member states’ need to economise and the European Union’s financial needs for bringing its policies to life,” said Maasikas. The ambassador added that the main goal of the next EU financial framework should be to increase the EU’s competitiveness in order to support the initiatives and goals of the Europe 2020 (economic growth and employment) strategy.
Estonia feels that with the new financial framework we must take into account both the European Union’s need to invest and each member state’s ability to use funds economically. Matti Maasikas stated that this would mean two-way solidarity in the European Union, where recognition is given to those who manage to fulfil their responsibilities.
Estonia considers the European Commission’s proposal regarding the general size of the budget to be reasonable and a good basis for further negotiations. However, Estonia also feels that it would be rational to reach a common understanding regarding the effects and expected benefits of carrying out the EU’s main policies before agreeing on the sum for the budget.
In the ongoing negotiation process taking place during Denmark’s presidency, raising the competitiveness of the European Union is an important goal for all member states. Estonia emphasises this in regards to the role of the two biggest EU policies, the EU cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy. We feel it is important to have a strong cohesion policy throughout the whole European Union that invests in employment and competitiveness. The common agricultural policy would benefit from direct supports to countries becoming equalised very soon, as this would give member states equal opportunities on the EU common market.
In addition, we must invest in research and development activity and innovation so that the European Union can preserve its role in a global context. However, in order to benefit from all these investments we must ensure a better cross-border framework, using among other resources the European Commission’s proposed Connecting Europe Facility.
The ministers will discuss the budget framework at the first four out of the remaining five General Affairs Councils taking place within the first half of this year.
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