The representatives of 16 EU member states which form the Friends of Cohesion Group signed a joint declaration to underline that the cohesion policy should remain unchanged in the next seven-year budget framework.
The adopted joint declaration stresses the importance of the cohesion policy to the achieving some of the European Union’s key objectives, such as economic and social convergence, the functioning of the internal market and the fight against climate change.
Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister of Poland, said in a Twitter post, that “the Friends of Cohesion Group clearly asks a fair EU budget and it is necessary the development of a tight tax system as well as the construction of roads, railways and bridges. The voice of the entire “16” will be clearly heard during the EU December summit in Brussels.”
During a press conference, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, said that it is unfair that they intend to reduce cohesion funds in such a way that “the poorer a country is, the more money would be taken away from them, while the richer a country is, the less”.
Orbán highlighted that, in order to make the budget just and fair, “four things must change: the system of rebates must be eliminated because if we recalculate the amounts that each Member State pays into the budget in relation to its own gross domestic product by also taking into consideration the rebates they receive, we will see that the situation that so evolves is completely unfair.”
“It is necessary to also take account of the fact that a large percentage of the funds received by Central European countries as grants goes back to Western Member States, and this must be reflected in the proposal,” Orbán explained.
The Slovenian Prime Minister, Marjan Šarec, explained that a strong European Union needs an adequate and future-oriented budget, and this will not be achieved through slashing cohesion funds. “If we want to protect the cohesion policy, the size of the multiannual financial framework must remain near the Commission’s proposal of 1.11 percent of GNI of the EU 27.”
In 2018, the European Commission proposed a MFF 2021–2027 amounting to EUR 1,135 billion, representing 1.11 percent of the GNI of the EU 27.
Taking part to the summit in Prague, Günther Oettinger, the Commissioner responsible for budget and human resources, said that “the clock is ticking so we need an agreement soon. The Cohesion policy remains important, but it needs to be modernised to better serve our citizen.”
The Group of Friends of Cohesion represent the interests of beneficiary countries over those of net contributor countries, to draw attention to the topical issues of cohesion policy, and to coordinate positions and to settle disputes. The members of the Group first met in 2012 in Bucharest.