European Council: EU multiannual budget 2014-20 agreed by Heads of State or Government
President Barroso stated that a fair assessment of the agreement between the Heads of State or Government should recognise that this deal is not perfect but it offers a basis for negotiations with the European Parliament. "I hope these negotiations will be successful," he said.
The President stressed that one essential condition for this agreement to work is a maximum possible flexibility that will allow adaption to changes or developments, for example by moving spending from one year to another.
He said that despite the fact that the levels agreed by the Heads of State and Government are below what the Commission considers desirable … "the deal that has been agreed tonight can still be an important catalyst for growth and jobs."
The President highlighted several positive elements of the new multiannual budget:
1. The basic structure of the Commission proposal and some innovative instruments have been preserved, including the Connecting Europe Facility which provides for investment in transport, energy and the digital agenda. This makes the EU's budget a tool for competitiveness and growth with a pan-European logic.
2. More significant investment than previously will benefit European programmes crucial for supporting growth and jobs creation – such as Horizon 2020 for research and innovation, Erasmus for all for student exchanges and training abroad, and COSME for small and medium sized enterprises.
3. Important elements designed to address the current major social challenges have been included, especially a new Youth Employment Initiative – a commitment to act at EU level on today’s main political challenge: getting young people back in to work. The aid programme for the most deprived people in Europe has also been preserved, as well as European commitment to development and humanitarian aid.
On another point on the European Council agenda – trade – President Barroso said he is glad that the European Council has adopted strong conclusions that endorse the Commission’s ambitious trade agenda. "We need to move forward on free trade agreements as better access would increase GDP by at least 2% ... The Commission will push ahead to realise the full potential of an integrated transatlantic free trade agreement. I hope that very soon the High Level Working Group will present to us and President Obama a recommendation to launch negotiations on a transatlantic trade agreement".
Finally, President Barroso reiterated that delivering on the EU's commitments to its partners in the Southern Mediterranean ("Arab Spring" countries) continues to be a top priority. "The case for engagement remains stronger than ever. I am pleased with the resolve shown by the European Council to continue supporting the transition to democracy in the region," he said.