Brian Hayes MEP today (Wednesday) said that it is only right that Ireland should be prepared to pay more into the EU budget after receiving so much from the EU for over 40 years. In fact, we have received over €50 billion since we joined.
“The proposal for the new 7-year EU budget from 2021 – 2027, launched today by the Commission, could set the stage for one of the most protracted and difficult EU negotiations for some time. The big glaring Brexit hole of €12-14 billion per year understandably makes this a particularly thorny issue for many Member States.
“Some countries are saying that they should not have to pay a penny more while others are saying that they should not receive a penny less in terms of cohesion funds.
“There needs to be some realism injected into the process right from the start. The EU budget is going to be a completely different beast following Brexit and no one can logically argue that the status quo should remain.
“The Irish government and our diplomatic staff in Brussels need to be well prepared going into these negotiations. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already set a marker down that Ireland is willing to pay more into the budget. This was the right thing to say. However, the key issue is what we can get in return for such a commitment.
“The priority must be to ensure that Ireland is offered some financial protection from the negative effects of Brexit. We can and should argue for a budget line under the next EU 7-year budget that would help exporters that are disproportionately affected by Brexit due to their trade links with the UK. This may apply not only to Irish exporters but to exporters from any EU-27 Member State. We already have the EU global adjustment fund. This could be built upon.
“The government also needs to be clear about its other priorities in the budget. A stable level of CAP funding must be ensured – this is such an important source of funding for Irish farmers and is an absolutely essential pillar of Ireland’s relationship with the EU. We also should look to protect EU funding for research, innovation and healthcare, in programmes like Horizon 2020.
“Since Ireland became a net contributor in 2014, we have provided over €500 million in net contributions to the EU budget.
“More generally, we should be arguing for better EU spending. Funds should be devoted to the areas where they work best and achieve real added-value.”