EU rift explodes as Bettel mocks ‘David Copperfield’ Charles Michel in savage budget swipe

Charles Michel was mocked as he was compared to magician David Copperfield over his proposal to cut EU budget demands despite the European Commission’s commitment to invest in “new priorities” across the bloc. The European Council President had been pushing members to increase contributions to 1.11 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) but reviewed his proposal after meeting with the criticism of most European Union members. 

Heading into a special EU Summit in Brussels to debate the budget issue, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said: “For me, if we’re not able to fix the priorities which our citizens are waiting for – that means the digital agenda, the security, but also the economy – then we are wrong.

“The proposal on the table is that we are going to do more with less. Less persons, less money.

“I don’t know if Charles Michel is now the twin brother of David Copperfield but we don’t know how it should work.

“The problem is that, most of us, when we come here we just take out the calculator what it costs – for my country is €1.50 a day and we should not forget that it brings us freedom of movement for companies, for countries of 500 million habitants, the biggest democracy in the world.”

But while Mr Bettel appeared eager to agree to pay more into the common budget, net contributors like Austria and Denmark have opposed the plans as it would see them forced to contribute much more compared to other member states. 

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin also denounced Charles Michel’s proposed budget, urging for more “moderate” measures for the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

Ms Marin said the proposal “has gone to the wrong direction” and has become “too high” while also claiming the Council president had agreed to water down the issue of rule of law with his latest proposal.

While the Finnish leader agreed EU members are currently “far from each other,” Ms Marin expressed her hope the countries will “find an agreement” during the summit.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on the other hand, welcomed the proposals.

She said: “Today we’re going to negotiate the budget, it’s going to be long, long and tough.

“I welcome the proposal of the President of the Council for the next European budget because it puts a lot of emphasis on the European Green Deal and making Europe fit for the digital age.

“For us, it’s important that at least 25 percent of the overall budget will be mainstreamed on projects and dedicated to projects that are within the European Green Deal.

EU at risk of eurosceptic surge amid ongoing budget clash [INSIGHT]
EU told to stop punishing small countries while Macron benefits [ANALYSIS]
EU DIVIDED: Merkel panic over Brexit black hole – ‘Hard talks ahead’ [VIDEO]

“I very much welcome that the transition fund is now integrated into the budget and that’s bringing fresh money into the budget.”

European Union leaders are expected to clash over the EU’s 2021-2027 budget as Britain’s exit leaves a 75 billion euro hole in the bloc’s finances just as it faces costly challenges such as becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

The budget is the most tangible expression of key areas on which the EU members must focus over the next seven years and their willingness to stump up.

For the coming seven-year cycle, the starting point for talks is 1.074 percent of the bloc’s gross national income (GNI), or 1.09 trillion euros.

By contrast, EU national budgets claw in 47 percent of annual output (GDP) on average.

Source: Read Full Article