Compromise on funding necessary, EU Budget Commissioner tells Joseph Muscat

EU Budget funding commissioner Günther Oettinger told Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that no fundamental discrepancies with Malta exist

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (centre) with EU fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella (left) and EU budget commissioner Gunther Oettinger (right)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (centre) with EU fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella (left) and EU budget commissioner Gunther Oettinger (right)

Member states will have to make compromises in the upcoming discussions for the seven-year Multiannual Financial Framework, EU funding Commissioner Günther Oettinger said today, and there will have to be some "acceptable cuts" in cohesion and Common Agricultural Policy funds.

In talks with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning, Oettinger said that the Commission was on the same wavelength on "more than 90% of Malta's views" regarding the upcoming EU funding discussions, and that there were "no fundamental discrepancies" in what Malta and the Commission were expecting.

The Prime Minister emphasised that "what is good for Europe is good for the member states, and vice versa," as he highlighted that Malta felt some very crucial decisions had to be made when it came to devising funding for the forthcoming years, especially in view of Britain's planned exit from the EU.

"We opine that the main discussions [on what funds Malta will receive] at this point should be about percentages, not objectives - we need to see what we want to do, and then think about how to achieve our targets," the Prime Minister told Oettinger.

"We are ambitious, but realistic regarding the forces at play which are competing with each other," he said, "At the end of the day there should be no member state winners or losers - everyone should feel they achieved something."

The funding Commissioner stressed that it was in the Commission's interest to get Malta's advice and to hear its expectations, explaining that, once Britain left the Union, it would leave a funding gap or around €13 or €14 billion annually which had to be filled.

"We now have responsibilities which we did not for see to such a significant degree as we do now back in 2011 and 2012, when we were drawing up the previous MFF. These include migration, the fight against terrorism, defence, and others," Oettinger maintained.

"We are politicians, and at the end of the day, everyone has to survive to be a winner. But we need a high level of flexibility from member states, to ensure the EU has enough money to deal with any future problems which may come up in the future," he said.

The talks continued behind closed doors.

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