European Council reaches 2014-2020 budget deal

Brussels, 8 February – The European Council has reached a deal on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2014-2020. Despite cuts being made to the total budget, Heads of States agreed to the Commission’s request to spend 20% of the entire budget on climate-related actions. The move was lauded as an ‘historic step’ by Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, but the four largest party groupings in the European Parliament remain unimpressed with the total budget package.

Brussels, 8 February – The European Council has reached a deal on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2014-2020. Despite cuts being made to the total budget, Heads of States agreed to the Commission’s request to spend 20% of the entire budget on climate-related actions. The move was lauded as an ‘historic step’ by Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, but the four largest party groupings in the European Parliament remain unimpressed with the total budget package.

The EPP, S&D, ALDE and Greens/EFA have all said that they will reject the budget, and are critical of the cuts that have been made, even though the final agreement was better than many feared. The Cypriot Presidency of the Council of Ministers had removed the commitment to climate actions from the negotiating text, but it was reinstated by European Council President Herman van Rompuy towards the end of last year. Mr. van Rompuy praised the new budget, saying it was focused, “clearly on triggering new investments and on developing transport, energy and ICT networks”.

In the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), where efforts have been made to green direct payments, the final compromise states that, “member states will use 30% of the annual national ceiling, with a clearly defined flexibility … relating to the choice of equivalent greening measures, “ adding that “the requirement to have an ecological focus area on each agricultural holding will be implemented in ways that do not require the land in question to be taken out of production and that avoids unjustified losses [of income]”.

The new text was strongly criticised by environmental groups, with the WWF saying that, “the proposed ‘greening’ of direct payments is so far a shameful smokescreen. It will certainly backfire on the reputation of the EU budget as a whole, undermining the European project.” Further concerns have arisen over the LIFE programme, with funds under the heading ‘Sustainable growth: Natural resources’ have been cut.

Click to read the Conclusions of the European Council and the WWF’s press statement.

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