Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger acknowledged Wednesday that leaders will not reach a deal on the 2021-2027 EU budget this year.
“I think there’s going to be progress up to December, but no agreement in December,” the commissioner told reporters.
“If President [Donald] Tusk is unable to reach a conclusion, then it’s going to be impossible for the new president to do this in the first few weeks when he is in office,” Oettinger added. Belgium’s Charles Michel takes over as president of the European Council on December 1.
However, in a combative press conference, Oettinger challenged the narrative that EU budget costs for countries will rise significantly after 2020. EU countries remain hugely split on the budget proposal and Germany in particular has been vocal as part of a “frugal five” grouping concerned to limit spending in Brussels.
Oettinger said suggestions Germany’s budget bill would double to €33 billion are “completely wrong” and are “lies” not in line with the numbers discussed by the Commission with Berlin. Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported German government estimates that “show Germany would be hit with a sharp rise in its net EU budget contributions, from €15bn in 2020 to upwards of €33bn in 2027. ”
Those figures did not specify how the numbers were calculated or whether inflation had been taken into account. According to Oettinger, Germany’s net contribution to Brussels is expected to be €18.1 billion in 2018 prices for 2021 and €23.5 billion in 2018 prices for 2027.
“You’ve got seven years of inflation, seven years of increase in GNI” to take into account, Oettinger said.
The commissioner also made the case that net payers benefit from a range of programs indirectly, pointing to funding to help refugees in Turkey, funds for border security, and the space program. Oettinger showed reporters a chart chronicling the decline of agriculture spending as a share of the EU budget over the past decade and the rise of new priorities, which include research or investment funding.