A negotiation on this scale, with so much at stake, is never easy. This was my third time at the helm of the talks, ferrying between the parties, encouraging them to make the necessary compromises to reach a common understanding.
Three years ago the initial talks failed and we had to go back to the drawing board. There is a tradition that this happens every two years. Which is why I was even more delighted in the early hours of a wet, cold Brussels morning that we were finally able to come together: by doing so we had broken the repetitive cycle of biannual failure. But was it third time lucky? I don’t think so.
What made the difference this year was the growing realisation of where we are in this troubled world. It's nearly impossible to imagine now that, only five years ago, we would finish the budgetary year with hundreds of millions of euros that we were unable to spend.
Today it is just the opposite: competition for money is growing and the constraints upon the public purse are that much greater. We have to respond in the most prudent, intelligent way we can to satisfy the demands and concerns of our citizens. Top of the priority list are security and jobs.
So we did it. We talked and argued and debated long into the night and towards the dawn to make sure that we were certain of delivering a budget which strikes the right balance – and which in particular serves our younger generations by giving them more job opportunities and also gives them more opportunities – through Erasmus+, our new solidarity corps, for instance – to be more European. Every euro has been fought over in order to be sure that each and every euro is going to do good.
I want to congratulate everybody who was involved in this tough, arduous but ultimately fruitful Budget negotiation.