And Austrian finance minister Eduard Muller said the EU would need to tighten its belt after Britain, which makes an annual contribution of more than £13billon, leaves the bloc, rather than simply expecting everyone else to pay more. The Commission affirmed the figure at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, relating to the amount each member state is expected to pay into the EU’s multi-annual budget, which runs from 2021 to 2027.
A smaller EU has to manage with a smaller budget
Speaking prior to the meeting, Mr Muller warned: “A smaller EU has to manage with a smaller budget.
Austria, together with the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, sometimes dubbed the “Frugal Four”, are all net contributors to the EU budget, and all four have voiced concerns about being expected to pay more into the pot.
Speaking in the European Parliament last week, designated EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the 1.1 percent figure was the minimum given the priorities being planned for by Mrs von der Leyen in such areas as climate change and migration.
Austrian finance minister Eduard Muller has said the EU will need to tighten its belt
Incoming EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn
However, the Frugal Four argue the amount should be capped at one percent of GDP, which would still yield an increase in the overall budget of £88billon (£100billion).
Austria’s GDP for the year up to December 2018 was £366billion ($456billion), the Netherlands’ was £733billion ($913billion), Denmark’s was £282billion ($351billion), and Sweden’s was £442billion ($551billion).
Capping at one percent would mean they would pay maximums of £3.66billion, £7.33billion, £2.82billion and £4.42billion respectively – with the extra 0.1 percent likewise costing them an extra £366million, £733million, £282million and £442million respectively.
Jean-Claude Juncker with the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
Together with Germany, the four nations will be expected to fund 40 percent of the EU’s budget after Brexit.
Mr Muller said he was concerned at the prospect of spiralling budget contributions to come, with burden falling disproportionately on his nation alongside the other three.
He told the Wiener Zeitung newspaper: “It rather requires an expenditure-based consolidation.”
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Sebastian Kurz has also voiced concerns about expecting net contributors to pay more
He further criticised the fact that “the current financial framework for 28 member states has been created, but the future will only apply to an EU with 27 countries”.
Mr Hahn, who takes up his new post on November 1 – the day after Britain is scheduled to leave the EU is also hoping to cover the shortfall with a tax on plastic bags, as well as higher revenues from emissions trading, a market-based approach to controlling pollution by offering economic incentives for achieving cuts in the emissions of pollutants.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned of the impact of Brexit
Earlier this year, then-Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz voiced his opposition to the idea of requiring his country to pay more after plans were unveiled by current European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker as part of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), arguing instead Brexit should force Brussels to downsize its sizeable bureaucracy.
He added: “We must take the exit of the British as an opportunity to also get leaner structures.”
“The Netherlands sees the Commission’s proposal as leaving the Netherlands paying too high a share of the bill. This also affects other countries.
Net contributors – and beneficiaries in the EU
“A smaller EU as a result of Brexit should also mean a smaller budget. That entails making clearer choices and spending less.
“Under the proposal, the costs of funding the budget are not shared fairly.
“Brexit is already set to hit the Netherlands’ economy hard.
Ursula von der Leyen will take over as European Commission President on November 1
“This MFF proposal imposes a disproportionately high bill on top of that.
“The Commission recognises that the countries that bear the heaviest burden deserve compensation.
“But it only offers a temporary solution in the form of rebates that are phased out over time.
“This is not solution for the underlying problem of the unfair distribution of costs.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)