Money Talks: EU Budget Negotiations Widen East-West Divide

"We do not accept the proposals of the Finnish presidency regarding the EU budget," media quoted Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as saying in Brussels in mid-October.

"There are no grounds for compromise."

Morawiecki was referring to a paper presented by Finland — which holds the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union until the end of the year — that built on a draft budget put forward by the European Commission in May 2018.

Three main issues trouble eastern states when it comes to the EU's so-called multiannual financial framework (MFF), which will determine spending for the period 2021-2027.

The first is the prospect of big cuts to budget allocations for many of the bloc's youngest members, excluding Romania and Bulgaria.

That is due to a smaller planned budget overall and, among other things, proposals to reduce cohesion funds aimed at reducing economic disparities and promoting sustainable development.

Then there is the EU's plan to make budget allocations conditional on member states' respect for the rule of law. 

Eastern countries also complain about what they see as an attempt by Brussels to take greater control over how EU funds are spent in member states — a move that analysts say could make it harder for populists to use EU money for political advantage. 

Together, these issues have further widened the East-West divide in the EU family, analysts say.

Eastern member states — all net recipients of EU funds — are circling the wagons as they prepare their positions for upcoming negotiations.

At a Council meeting in October, EU leaders discussed MFF strategy and asked Finland to submit a new draft before the next Council meeting in December.

No one is...

Continue reading on: