EU Budget Hike

The European Commission is proposing a 30% increase in its 2021-27 external-action budget, with a focus set on helping countries in its southern and eastern “neighbourhoods” to raise standards in their efforts to join the European Union.

On June 14, the commission said the planned increase to 123 billion euros for the period is intended to show EU leadership in times of uncertainty all over the world. The commission also called the external-action budget its main tool to support partner countries in their political and economic transformations.

The proposed budget level, up from 94.5 billion euros in the 2014-20 outlay, would set aside 22 billion euros for its neighborhood policy, up from 16.5 billion euros previously. It said 14.5 billion euros would be designated to aid countries looking to gain EU membership, mainly in the Western Balkans, which includes Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

“The increased and reformed budget will allow us to continue working with those countries that are engaged to join the EU, as well as maintaining our special relationship with our eastern and southern neighbours," said Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations.

"This will support our strategic goal to achieve a space of stability, security, and prosperity close to the EU's borders," he added.

Two-thirds of the neighbourhood budget tends to go to the Western Balkans or southern neighbourhood, with the rest going to the eastern region, which consists of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The budget hike, part of an overall 1.28 trillion euro budget request, will be put to a vote by EU member states and the European Parliament and are often the start of long and arduous negotiations.

Several EU states have indicated they want to see a decline in the general budget after Britain leaves the EU next year.

By Shawn Wayne

15 June 2018 13:16