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Top EU official’s budget plan faces major headwinds as summit looms

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 European Council President Charles Michel’s new compromise vision for the next EU long-term budget met initial scepticism among EU member states ahead of a crunch summit next week.

States would have to pay 1.074 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) under the proposal unveiled on Friday, to drum up just over 1 trillion euros (1.1 trillion dollars) in shared European Union funds for 2021-2027.

The contribution is higher than the 1 per cent maximum ceiling demanded by at least four countries.

Michel had to plug an estimated 60 billion to 75 billion euro shortfall left by the departure of big-spending Britain.

The proposal foresees major cuts to domestically popular agricultural subsidies and funds to address the wealth gap between richer and poorer EU regions.

It also outlines plans to tax unrecycled plastic to top up EU funds.

Michel faces serious headwinds ahead of the four-day gathering of EU leaders in Brussels, starting Thursday.

An agreement among EU leaders currently looks impossible, and further summits will likely be needed in the coming months, a diplomatic source said Friday.

Failure to pass the budget, which must also be signed off by parliament and the European Commission, by year end could wreak havoc on businesses, organisations or projects dependent on EU funds.

Member states are bitterly divided between net contributors like the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark opposed to rising costs, and at least 15 poorer states that insist cuts should not be made.

The 27 European affairs ministers are to meet and discuss the proposal on Monday.

Edited By: Halima Sheji/Felix Ajide

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