Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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EU does not support Ursula von der Leyen’s request for a budget increase

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen refused to answer questions from representatives of EU member states after demanding more funding from them.

The European Commission yesterday asked EU member states to contribute an extra €66bn to the EU budget. The extra funding is needed to tackle the growing challenges facing the bloc.

The Commission has to make a decision until the beginning of December, the last deadline to reach an agreement on the annual budget for 2024. However, after asking for more money at the European Council summit yesterday, the EU chief left the stage without answering questions. She said the bloc was “coming together today in a period of upheaval”.

Discussing the growing number of migrants arriving in the EU and the war in Ukraine, she added:

The EU needs to react and act united and resolute.All of this needs funding — and this is why I have proposed a revision of the EU budget, to be able to fund these very important tasks.

According to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the war in Ukraine in particular has taken a large bite out of the EU budget:

We have now deployed a total of 30 billion euros in Ukraine. This was never foreseen in the budget we prepared in 2020.

The intention is that with the extra money from the EU countries for the next four years, a fund of 50 billion euros will also be set up for Ukraine. This is separate from military aid to Ukraine. The money is intended to support the war-ravaged country economically with cheap loans and subsidies.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was not in favour of the request for an increase in funding. He said that new financial needs should be addressed by reallocating funds from less urgent areas in order to prevent member states from increasing their spending. Olaf Scholz noted:

Even though time has already advanced, we are still at the very beginning [of the budget discussions]. The positions that have been formulated there are not yet all congruent. I am convinced that the possibilities offered by reprioritizing spending programs from the European budget have not yet been exhausted.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte supported Scholtz’s opinion, saying that the money should be found by “reprioritising”. He said that even the Netherlands, a country known for its frugality, “realises that new money is needed” in the budget to continue financial support for Ukraine.

However, Mark Rutte added:

 In terms of all these other requests for fresh money, our position — and of many colleagues — is to reprioritise.

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