Open Europe Blog

Update 21 November, 16:15

Portugal has stepped up its rhetoric by a notch, and has now joined the group of countries that have explicitly threatened to use their veto. Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told MPs, “The proposal that has been tabled [by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy] is completely unacceptable for Portugal. By saying this, I mean that I would block a decision [by EU heads of state and government] that had this proposal as its final result.”

In practice, this means that one third of EU member states have so far explicitly said that they are ready to veto the next long-term EU budget.  

Update 21 November, 10:40

Another day, another EU budget veto threat – this time from Latvia. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis has said that his country is prepared to veto the 2014-2020 EU budget unless it gets a better deal on agricultural subsidies and cohesion policy.

Update 20 November, 17:00

Italy has today officially moved to the group of countries that have explicitly threatened to veto the 2014-2020 EU budget. Italian Europe Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said Italy will be “ready to use its veto” if it considers that the next long-term EU budget is “harmful for the country and burdensome for the Italian taxpayer.”

Also, Portugal added its voice to the group of member states that consider Van Rompuy’s proposal “unacceptable”, but stopped short of threatening a veto. 
And here’s our original blog post,

You will have read a slew of stories about how the UK is threatening to veto the EU leaders’ budget talks later this week and the various terrible consequences that will follow should it do so. The FT has a story today that EU diplomats are working to “circumvent” the UK’s veto by moving to annual Qualified Majority Voting, which actually only means that they’re working on a scenario for a roll-over, should a deal fail to be struck (we’ve already looked at that scenario in detail here) so don’t get too excited.    
As some European sources have put it, a “miracle” would be needed to strike a deal on the 2014-2020 EU budget when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. And the UK is certainly not alone when it comes to putting its veto on the table. In fact, veto threats are flying around all over the place – we count seven veto threats in total. Here is a list of EU member states who have either explicitly threatened to veto the next long-term EU budget or said they are unhappy with the compromise currently on the table – which means they could wield their veto unless something changes.

UK: Has threatened to veto any proposal which does not involve, at worst, a freeze based on 2011 payments.

Denmark: Has warned it will use its veto unless it gets a rebate worth 1 billion DKK (slightly over £100 million) from the 2014-2020 EU budget.

France: Has said the compromise proposal put forward by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy “is not a basis for negotiations”. Paris wants EU farm subsidies to be kept at least at 2013 levels, and said it will threaten to veto the talks should CAP spending be radically changed.

Sweden: Has hinted at using the veto in the past and believes Van Rompuy’s proposal still does not go far enough. According to Swedish Europe Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, what is missing is “a clear model for reducing agriculture subsidies”.

Austria: Has threatened to veto the long-term EU budget unless two conditions are satisfied. Firstly, Austria wants to continue receiving its ‘rebate on the UK rebate’ over the next seven-year EU budget period. Secondly, the Austrian government is opposed to cutting the rural development component of the CAP.

The Netherlands: Does not want to see the annual or long-term EU budget increase above inflation, and explicitly said it will use its veto if necessary.

Romania: Has warned it could use its veto, calling Van Rompuy’s proposed cuts to farm subsidies and regional funds “unacceptable”.

Italy: Has not threatened to veto the talks but dismissed Van Rompuy’s compromise, saying it is “not a positive contribution” to the negotiations. Italy wants to see its net contribution to the EU budget cut, the reason being that its GDP per capita has now slipped slightly below the EU-27 average. Rome also opposes cuts to farm subsidies and cohesion policy.

Spain: Has rejected Van Rompuy’s proposal as “unacceptable”. Reports have suggested that, under the proposal, Spain risks losing up to €20 billion in total over seven years in both farm subsidies and cohesion funds. However, Madrid is still to drop the “V” word.

Poland: Has not explicitly threatened to wield its veto, but is clearly not happy with Van Rompuy’s proposed cuts to EU regional spending. Poland is trying to muster support from other net recipients from the EU budget, such as Portugal – the so-called ‘Friends of cohesion group’.

So, it looks like circumventing a veto on the 2014-2020 EU budget would mean much more than circumventing the UK.

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