European Union Financial Framework 2014-2020
The European Commission has just set out its proposals for the European Union Financial Framework 2014-2020.
1 – President Sarkozy and the government – always taking the initiative – have put the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) at the heart of the European debate. They have thus prevented their dismantling and renationalization. The stabilization of the CAP and CFP budgets is an important achievement of the difficult negotiations under way between the member states and the European Parliament. The CAP will clearly remain the European Union’s leading policy. France will accept no financial framework that does not guarantee the stabilization of the CAP budget. President Sarkozy and the government are utterly determined in this regard.
We note certain proposals by the Commission which deserve in-depth examination. The French authorities can already stress the following points:
the creation of a reserve supply mechanism for crises in the agricultural sector, which must be reactive, complements the regulatory tools of the first pillar [EU’s traditional farming policies under CAP] that are necessary to stabilize farmers’ revenues in the face of volatility;
the possibility of carrying out a certain redistribution of aid between states, as well as “greening” it, will be limited by the Commission’s budgetary choice;
extending the Globalization Adjustment Fund to farmers in no way prejudices ongoing or future trade negotiations, and France reaffirms that she will refuse any trade agreements that call European agricultural interests into question.
2 – In a very constrained European and national budgetary context, France regrets the fact that, in its proposal, the Commission has not applied the same effort of budgetary discipline and reform to other policies as it is proposing for the CAP. France will strive to put this right in the negotiations, because it is time not to spend more but to spend better, and the efforts at budgetary discipline made by the states must also be shared by the European Union. In particular,
with regard to the Cohesion Policy, the Commission has not considered all the consequences of the fact that about 20 regions have attained a level of development allowing them to meet the Convergence Objective: savings are possible;
the very sharp increase in the funds devoted to so-called competitiveness costs is unacceptable at a time when the operation and effectiveness of this policy are disputed and the heads of state and government have clearly called for a radical reform: increasing the budget for this policy, especially to such an extent, cannot be contemplated before it is radically reformed.
3 – France has constantly recalled that her contribution to the Community budget must be stabilized. The Commission’s proposal does not reflect this aim. The increase in payments of more than €250 billion (some 30%) proposed by the Commission for the coming period is intolerable for the French budget, which already devotes nearly €20 billion to its contribution to the European budget. France calls for annual ceilings for payment appropriations, set at a realistic level, covering all European spending (including large projects like ITER [International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor] and GMES [Global Monitoring for Environment and Security]) and constituting a real limit on it.
4 – Regarding resources, France has always been opposed to rebates and cannot contemplate their being continued. Any extension would be unthinkable. More simplicity, transparency and equality is needed.
The Commission proposes mobilizing new resources of its own. France is open to a discussion of this subject, provided these resources fully replace existing revenues and thus enable contributions from national budgets to be reduced. The type of its own resources that could be chosen will have to be examined closely. Some of the Commission’s proposals are suggestions on which France is ready to work, particularly the idea of a European deduction from a European share of an international financial transactions tax.
5 – As part of the distribution to be decided upon in the framework of controlled overall spending, the European Union will have to have the necessary resources available for its external action, particularly for its neighbourhood./.