The Visegrad Group considers the new seven-year EU budget unfair, with V4 prime ministers agreeing that it will cut funding for poorer regions and reduce cohesion within the EU.
The prime ministers of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia delivered their verdict on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027 during the Friends of Cohesion summit in Prague on Nov. 5.
In a joint declaration, the group representing 16 EU member states, identified the cohesion policy as a key investment instrument that contributes significantly to the convergence of living standards in the EU and stable internal markets.
Furthermore, the group expressed its conviction that cohesion policy can be used to address new challenges such as climate change and the economic impact of globalization.
The joint declaration also emphasizes that states and regions should get the opportunity to distribute cohesion funds finances at each country’s discretion. The document points out that the investment priorities of states and regions differ.
According to the Friends of Cohesion group, member states should also get more independence in transferring money between different cohesion funds.
The declaration further called for the cancellation of the rebate program applied mainly by the member states from the western part of the EU. The rebate program provides benefits for net contributors to the EU budget.
According to the group, given the expected departure of the UK from the EU, there is a unique opportunity to cancel rebates as the UK profited from this system the most.
Czech PM Andrej Babiš stated that the rebate program is “unfair”, and its cancellation could be a way to bring more money to cohesion funds.
Before the start of the Friends of Cohesion summit, representatives of the Visegrad Group countries met to discuss the current draft of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, which the V4 countries consider to be unacceptable.
According to them, cohesion policy finances cannot be reduced as the economic disparities between EU regions persist. Furthermore, the V4 countries rejected the assumption that “poorer countries” constantly ask for more money from the EU budget.
The Friends of Cohesion group is mainly made up of countries from the eastern and southern parts of the EU, which are net beneficiaries of the EU budget.