General Affairs Council
Scant support for continuation of European Globalisation Fund
By Gaspard Sebag | Wednesday 27 June 2012
Support for the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is scant. Only four countries (France, Spain, Ireland and Luxembourg) spoke in favour of maintaining it beyond 2013 in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) during the General Affairs Council meeting, on 26 June.
Established in late 2006, the fund has an annual spending limit of €500 million. At the current stage, the only option in the Danish Presidency’s ‘negotiating box’ on the MFF is to discontinue the EGF after 2013. Ireland believes all options should remain open. “The economic situation creates industrial restructuring that has extremely severe social consequences. It would be inexplicable to give up an instrument that enables to deal with such situations,” said France’s junior EU Affairs’ Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
GERMANY DEFENDS COHESION
The ministerial discussion shed some light on the position of certain key players. Germany rubbished claims that it wants cohesion policy’s head on a plate. “Very often you get the impression from other people that all we want to do is cut Structural Funds. That’s wrong,” stated the German Minister for EU Affairs, Michael Link. He said that the cohesion policy and other funds under the common strategic framework are “essential” to promote growth. He nevertheless added that the objective in the next MFF is to have “high quality of expenditure”.
France opened the door to a reform of the own-resources system. “We need to think about the diversification of European Union funding,” said Cazeneuve. Spain, already often defending positions taken by the Friends of Cohesion group, clearly stated that the €1,025 billion ceiling in commitments and €972 billion in payments is the “minimum” acceptable.