Speaking to reporters, Charles Michel claimed EU leaders have “worked very hard” in the past weeks to work out a solution to the many concerns EU member states have over the future budget of the Brussels bloc. Leaders across the EU will discuss the future of the Union in a Special Summit over the course of the next three days, to decide on the first-ever EU budget since Brexit.
President Michel said: “This morning we will start our summit about the next European budget.
“The last weeks we have worked very hard with all the leaders and I’m grateful to the leaders for the hard work we have done together.
“There are many interests and there are many concerns and they are all legitimate.
“But I’m convinced that it is possible to make progress in the next hours or in the next days.
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“I’m convinced that everything is on the table in order to decide.”
He added: “The last efforts to reach a compromise are always the most difficult but I feel there is a positive willingness to continue to work, to dialogue, in order to take a decision to meet the EU’s priorities for the next years.”
European Union leaders are expected to clash over the EU’s 2021-2027 budget as Britain’s exit leaves a 75 billion euro hole in the bloc’s finances just as it faces costly challenges such as becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The budget is the most tangible expression of key areas on which the EU members must focus over the next seven years and their willingness to stump up.
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For the coming seven-year cycle, the starting point for talks is 1.074 percent of the bloc’s gross national income (GNI), or 1.09 trillion euros.
By contrast, EU national budgets claw in 47 percent of annual output (GDP) on average.
Still, disputes over hundredths of percentage points have kept EU and government officials busy for the last two years and many diplomats remain sceptical that a deal will be reached this weekend.
Italy is one of the net contributors to the common EU pot.
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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday: “Tomorrow’s summit is a complex and complicated summit because the proposal we have received does not meet our expectations.”
The EU budget gets money from customs duties on goods entering its single market, a cut of sales tax, antitrust fines imposed by the EU on companies, and from national contributions.
It spends money on subsidies for EU farmers, on equalising living standards across the bloc, border management, research, security and various non-EU aid programmes.
Some net contributors – the “frugal four” of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark – want to limit the budget to 1.00 percent of GNI.
Germany, the biggest contributor, is prepared to accept a bit more, but 1.07 is too high for Berlin.