Indeed, Britain’s exit from the European Union is divided by the European Union in a desperate attempt to bridge the budget gap
The multiannual financial framework (MFF), the EU’s long-term budget organisation, this weekend declared no member state of the bloc wanted to shoulder the burden of the UK’s departure. The MFF wrote: “No Member State should suffer a sharp and disproportional decrease of its Cohesion allocation.” The MFF’s seven-year budget is a cornerstone of EU policy that allots funding to help farmers compete against imports from the developing world and underpins projects that bind the union together.
The net recipients of EU funding do not want to see a reduction in the grants they receive annually.
The poorer nations, which see the so-called cohesion policy as a key tool to help them catch up with wealthier countries, now want their richer peers to contribute more money to make up for the UK’s withdrawal.
After the UK formally left the European Union, the bloc’s poorer members gathered in an old Franciscan convent in southern Portugal to rally against a looming budgetary shortfall that’s partly due to the loss of British contributions.
In the discussion about the next budget, positions are very far apart, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told reporters on Saturday.
He said: “We need not just days but months to make an agreement that could be accepted by everybody.”
Brexit is deepening the rift between richer and poorer EU states as they clash on the bloc’s trillion-euro £0.93 billion, $1.1 trillion, budget for the next seven years.
On Saturday in Beja, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said: “This meeting is happening on a very special day as it’s the first day in which the EU has just 27 members.
“It’s important to give the clear message that the union will remain cohesive.”
It is a smaller EU, now Britain is out, which means a smaller budget, and poorer members are fighting to keep the hole created by Britain’s departure from being filled by cuts to development funds.
The EU will need to find a different approach to sharing a smaller pot of funding, one EU diplomat said.
They said: “Whether the EU remains a relevant economic player does not depend on agriculture subsidies or funding for other old-fashioned spending areas.
“It depends on the EU’s determination to invest into the future in a post-Brexit world with altogether tougher budget constraints.