PM Morawiecki to attend EU's key budget summit

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will attend a special European Council summit on Thursday February 20, dedicated to the EU's next long-term budget for 2021-2027.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has put forward a budget proposal which has been warmly received by Polish diplomats. While it contains general cuts to the cohesion funds, Mr. Michel proposes a modified structure of the cohesion policy which would allow EUR 6 billion to be transferred from richer EU member states to poorer ones.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced that the Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) will meet on the sidelines of the summit in Brussels.

The statement from the PM’s office underlined that the size of the budget must match the EU’s political ambitions in the context of the numerous challenges that lie ahead of it, such as migration and climate change.

Poland and the three other member states of the Visegrad Group belong to the so-called “Friends of Cohesion Policy-group” which consists of 17 EU states in southern and Central Eastern Europe. The Visegrad Group is supported by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Malta, Spain and Portugal.

Tensions have been rising between the “Friends of Cohesion-group” and the so-called “Frugal Four” consisting of the main proponents of a small EU budget with drastic cuts to cohesion funds, namely Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands.

The negotiations for the next EU long-term budget, which traditionally are difficult and slow, have been further complicated by Brexit. The UK’s decision to leave the union means that less funds will be available for the next long term budget. Prime Minister Morawiecki addressed the issue during his meeting with Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen in early February but it remains to be seen whether his diplomatic efforts will bear fruit and Poland will be satisfied with the final budget deal once it is put on the table.

The long-term budget needs to pass a unanimous vote, giving the negotiating parties a great incentive to compromise in order to avoid complete gridlock.