Multiannual financial framework
Presidency testing waters on structure
By Gaspard Sebag | Friday 08 June 2012
The Danish EU Presidency will test the waters at the informal General Affairs Council in Horsens, Denmark, on 10-11 June, by putting before the ministers new proposals concerning the structure of the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF). The latest version of the ‘negotiating box’, released on 6 June, suggests creating separate sub-headings for competitiveness (1a) and cohesion (1b). Both ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) would be funded within the former sub-ceiling, and the same goes for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Unable to move forward on the figures - a task that will fall upon the Cypriot Presidency - Copenhagen is attempting to present “a balanced solution” on the structure that could suit all sensibilities, in particular those of the net payers and the cohesionists.
Responding to a long-standing request from the ‘Friends of Cohesion’ group of member states, the Danish Presidency proposes to create two sub-headings within Heading 1 instead of one specific sub-ceiling for cohesion expenditure as suggested by the Commission. Another novelty in the negotiating box that will please the cohesionists is that the CEF would be funded from within Sub-heading 1a (Competitiveness for growth and jobs). One of the key concerns for beneficiaries of cohesion policy is that the EU executive proposes to earmark €10 billion in cohesion money for CEF infrastructure projects.
To keep net contributors happy, their demand to place all funding elements inside the MFF is partially addressed. ITER and GMES, placed outside the MFF by the Commission, would be funded in Heading 1a, according to the latest version of the negotiating box. The Presidency is also proposing to place the crisis reserve for the agricultural sector, the Solidarity Fund and the emergency reserve in Headings 2 (agriculture), 3 (security and citizenship) and 4 (foreign affairs), respectively. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), under fire, would disappear.
Not all elements are placed within the MFF. As is the case in the current financial framework, Copenhagen suggests that both the flexibility instrument and the EDF (European Development Fund) stay outside. No mention is made of the size of these instruments. Yet, according to figures in the Commission’s proposal, under this scenario €33.5 billion (€3.5 billion for the flexibility instrument and €30 billion for the EDF) would still be funded outside the MFF.
Three other elements are worth noticing. As Germany, France and the United Kingdom have requested, the negotiating box makes mention of setting out the figures – non-existent at the moment – both in current and in 2011 prices. A signal is sent to Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia concerning money to be set aside for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in these countries. Finally, Denmark made new proposals to kick-start a debate on whether VAT should be eligible as a contribution from the Common Strategic Framework funds, ie Structural and Cohesion Funds, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. n