Barroso, 15 member states plead against EU budget cuts
(BUCHAREST) - European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and 15 of Europe's poorest nations pleaded Friday against limiting the 2013-2020 EU budget, saying more funds will spur growth and employment.
"We need to be strong and clear in making the case for cohesion ... namely its benefits to date and its potential to boost growth and competitiveness," Barroso told a meeting of the "Friends of Cohesion Policy" countries in Bucharest.
The fifteen nations (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Croatia) say the proposed 1,000 billion-euro 2013-2020 budget is an "absolute minimum" and oppose any cuts.
The net contributors to the EU budget, who responded by forming the "Friends of Better Spending" group, oppose any increase in EU spending.
"We know that national treasuries are facing difficult choices and, in some cases, extremely painful decisions," Barroso said.
"In this context, the European budget is seen by some, albeit a minority, as an easy target. With reduced spending power at home, some see the multiannual financial framework ... as a potential source of savings," he added.
The Commission president stressed that the benefits of cohesion policy are not confined to the least wealthy EU states or regions and urged members to make their case by pointing out the tangible results brought about so far by the use of EU funds.
In a joint declaration adopted at the end of their meeting, the Prime ministers or their delegates present in the Romanian capital stressed that cohesion policy had helped create 2.4 million jobs throughout the EU and played a major role in striking a balance between economic growth and fiscal stability.
"We believe that continuing to improve the quality of spending is important," they said.
"But 'better spending' should not be a reason to subsequently reduce the budget earmarked for cohesion policy," they stressed.
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