European Union heads of state and heads of government during their extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday discussed the EU's next long-term budget for 2021-2027, the communication office of the government of Estonia said.
The leaders of the member states will continue talks for reaching an agreement, yet the negotiations are becoming ever more complex.
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas described the budget talks as long and difficult. The opinions of the member states differ on issues such as the total size of the budget, repayments, and several other topics.
Ratas explained the priorities and proposals of Estonia both to his colleagues from other member states as well as to Council President Charles Michel during numerous consultations on Thursday and Friday. Nevertheless, moving forward with the proposals concerning the budget tabled by Charles Michel has been an arduous task.
Ratas said that not reaching an agreement on Friday does not mean failure and emphasized that all member states want to agree on the budget.
"The most successful years for the Estonian state and our people have been as a member of the European Union. Therefore, I consider it important that the future budget contribute to our common future, be ambitious, support Europe's competitiveness, interconnections, security, as well as achieving of climate goals, but also digital development," Ratas said.
"Estonia's main objectives for the budget negotiations have had to do, for instance, with funding for the cohesion policy necessary for investments and reforms, continuation of support for the Rail Baltic project and an increase in direct support provided to farmers," the prime minister said.
Cohesion policy means investment policy executed on the level of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of projects across Europe are supported via cohesion policy, which is the main investment measure of the EU level for improving the competitiveness of member states and conducting reforms.
The field with the biggest impact on the volume of the EU budget alongside cohesion policy is agricultural policy that is the implementation of rural development measures, direct agricultural support and conduct of the activities of the fishery and maritime fields. When it comes to the common agricultural policy, Estonia considers faster raising of the level of direct support for farmers closer to the EU average level as important in the first place.
Developing cross-border interconnections with the support of the Connecting Europe Facility is also very important for Estonia. Rail Baltic is a railway connection strategically important for us, which allows for environmentally friendly transport and travel for our people, but also a fast north-south freight corridor for businesses.
On February 14, President of the European Council Charles Michel submitted his proposal to the member states for budgetary negotiations. According to the proposal, the overall budget for the next seven years would be €1,094.8 billion, which means that it would make up 1.074 percent of the gross national income of member states. Unanimous support of all member states and consent of the European Parliament are required for adopting the budgetary plan.
Reaching a quick agreement is necessary for being able to launch the programs and activities from 2021 that are supported from the next period's budget. After an agreement on the long-term budgetary plan, it is necessary to introduce the budget volumes and outcomes of negotiations into so-called fund regulations, conclude the negotiations of these with the European Parliament, translate the legislation into EU official languages and publish them in the European Union Official Journal, so that they could enter into force as of the beginning of 2021. In the event that an agreement is not reached on time, decision-making processes may come to a halt until the budget is adopted.
Editor: Marcus Turovski