Next multi-annual EU budget to support more connected Europe
The Commission is due to submit a wide-ranging framework proposal by May next year
3 November, 2017
The multi-annual EU budget after 2021 should support more connected Europe and should remain at least as large as the current one, according to Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country is currently presiding over the EU Council. The topic was discussed last Tuesday at a meeting with European Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, who visited Tallinn for talks on the preparations for the next long-term EU budget, the Estonian EU Presidency reported. The Commission will submit a proposal for the EU multiannual budget framework in May next year.“The aim of the long-term budget of the European Union should be a stronger and more connected Europe. A better-functioning internal market would increase both the welfare of the people of Europe and the profits of companies,” PM Ratas pointed out. In his words, cohesion policy, harmonising the direct payment levels in the common agricultural policy, and the consistent consideration of digitalisation should stand as priorities in the next long-term EU budget. “Estonia stands for more Europe, and a smaller budget would be counterproductive for this purpose. Therefore, the size of the next budget of the European Union should remain as large as the current one,” Ratas said.Additionally, Ratas and Oettinger discussed the results of the Tallinn Digital Summit and further action. “The leaders of the EU have started taking digital development very seriously after the Tallinn Digital Summit. This emphasises the need to strategically invest in digital innovation in industries and services, in modern infrastructure, such as 5G networks and supercomputers, but also in people and in the capabilities of companies,” Ratas pointed out.According to the Commission, 100m Europeans have never used the Internet and 45% of the population and 37% of the workforce of the EU have insufficient digital skills. 42% of the people with insufficient digital skills in the European Union are unemployed, while 40% of employers of the European Union have announced that they cannot find employees with required skills. “Europe must be trailblazer in digital changes, but at the same time, we must make sure that people can keep up with these changes and adapt to them,” Estonian PM pointed out.Separately, Estonian Finance Minister Toomas Toniste expressed a view at a meeting with Guenther Oettinger last Tuesday that EU structural funds should be allocated mainly for structural reforms. “Using EU funds should go hand in hand with necessary structural reforms. This way, the money would go to where it is most needed,” Toniste said. “As the EU has taken up new tasks, the EU budget should not decrease under the next multiannual financial framework.”According to Toniste, the EU budget should be geared much more to the implementation of structural reforms than through the structural and investment funds (ESI funds), which constitute more than 1/3 of the budget, as it is today. This requires stronger conditionality on the country-specific reform recommendations and adjustments to the European Semester process.
Photo: Estonian Presidency of the EU
Estonian PM Juri Ratas (R) last Tuesday welcomed Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger in Tallinn.