Negotiations on the EU’s new seven-year budget for the period 2014-2020 entered a new phase as European Ministers and State Secretaries for European Affairs met today in Lefkosia (Nicosia). During the informal meeting, Member States positioned themselves on key issues of the MFF. The Deputy Minister for EU Affairs, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis, who chaired the meeting, expressed his deep satisfaction for the work undertaken during the meeting and also stressed the importance of maintaining a close cooperation with the European Parliament in order to achieve a timely conclusion of the negotiations.
The Cyprus Presidency hailed the progress made in the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) during the Informal Meeting of European Ministers and State Secretaries for EU Affairs on Thursday, August 30, as relevant stakeholders engaged in discussions on specific issues of the budget.
MFF negotiations enter new phase
“This is a watershed moment for the negotiations. The Issues Paper prepared by the Presidency has brought a new momentum and this momentum will not be lost. The meeting served its purpose and has guided the Presidency into the next steps that can lead to the final deal – a deal necessary for our citizens and Union,” said Ambassador Mavroyiannis.
Discussions focused on the Presidency’s Issues Paper that was prepared on the basis of bilateral meetings held in July among Member States and the Presidency. Member states expressed their positions on orientations provided by the Presidency, including the total level of the MFF, the level of spending and content under each heading/subheading, as well as the revenue side: issues of own resources, correction mechanisms and collection costs.
The Ministers were also informed of the intention of the European Council’s President, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy to set a date for an Extraordinary European Summit in November, solely focusing on the MFF.
Ambassador Mavroyiannis said that the Informal Meeting provided the Cyprus Presidency with an even greater understanding of the Member States’ positions. “This will prove to be invaluable for the next stage of negotiations and for the revision of the negotiating box that was developed by the Danish Presidency,” Ambassador Mavroyiannis said.
Close inter-institutional cooperation for a timely conclusion
The first working session of the meeting was attended by the Vice President of the European Commission, Mr. Maroš Šefčovič, who is also responsible for Inter-institutional relations and administration. He was accompanied by Mr. Janusz Lewandowski, the European Commissioner responsible for financial programming and budget.
Mr. Šefčovič praised the Cyprus Presidency’s “high quality Issues Paper” for helping spark a very open and frank debate.
“Thanks to this, we achieved the goal of the meeting; to help us to move further for understanding each other’s position and pave the way for reaching an agreement by the end of this year,” said Mr. Šefčovič.
The working lunch and the afternoon session of the meeting were also attended by the members of the European Parliament’s negotiating team, headed by the Chairman of the Budget Committee, Mr. Alain Lamassoure.
“Today’s discussion was a first”, commented Mr. Lamassoure, “never before parliamentary delegates were involved in discussions with Ministers this way. This was very useful and we would continue, both informally and pragmatically”.
During the press conference which followed the meeting, Ambassador Mavroyiannis reiterated the significance of a close cooperation between the Cyprus Presidency and the European Parliament in order to achieve a timely conclusion in the MFF negotiations.
“The European Parliament’s presence today and its continuous close involvement in MFF negotiations is paramount for our common goal of concluding negotiations within this year; we count on close cooperation with EP,” pointed out Ambassador Mavroyiannis.
The European Commission also expressed its satisfaction for the quality of the meeting’s debate while stressing the importance of concluding MFF negotiations by the end of the year.
“Nothing was as important (today) as the commitment of all participants, ranging from the UK to Poland, to find an agreement (by the end of 2012) in order to provide predictability of investment for Europe and capacity to act by the European Union,” said Mr. Lewandowski.
“For the Commission, we felt the momentum in the room and the strong political will to achieve an agreement on the MFF this year,” said Mr. Šefčovič.
The Cyprus Presidency will now review its initial timeframe, in view of the November European Council. It will present a revised Negotiating Box in September based on the bilateral meetings and the views expressed in today’s meeting.
The goal of the Cyprus Presidency is to reach an agreement by the end of 2012, in line with the European Council conclusions of June 2012.
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