EU Leaders Focus on Climate, Budget 10/18 06:08
BRUSSELS (AP) -- After agreeing on terms for a new Brexit deal, European
Union leaders are meeting again on Friday to discuss other thorny issues,
including the bloc's budget and climate change.
No decision is expected on the next long-term budget for 2021-2027, though,
a topic more divisive than Brexit.
Leaders need to find a compromise that satisfies countries in favor of
minimal spending, those arguing that it must at least be maintained at the
current level and others fighting for increased contributions from members
states to compensate for Britain's planned departure.
The Finnish presidency of the council is expected to present a draft
including a proposal on the overall level of financing. A top French diplomat
said the draft will be contested, insisting it's crucial to keep a high level
of funding in order to maintain the same level for agriculture and increase
money for climate, innovation and migrations issues.
Some other big net contributors, including Germany, disagree and are trying
to limit spending from 2021.
The diplomat, who was not authorized to be identified publicly, said that to
keep the next budget at its current level, member states will need to
contribute at least 1.16% of their gross national income. The European
Commission has set an objective of 1.11% for an overall budget of 1.113
trillion euros, while the European Parliament has proposed 1.30%.
In the wake of the United Nations' climate change summit, the Council will
continue talks on its goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 and leaders will
also discuss the agenda of priorities set up by incoming European Commission
president Ursula von der Leyen.
In June, EU leaders failed to agree on a plan to make the bloc's economy
carbon neutral by 2050. Several large European countries --- including Britain,
France and Germany --- have backed the target, but coal-reliant countries in
the east, such as Poland, blocked consensus on the proposal, which entails an
almost complete phase-out of fossil fuel use.
Meanwhile, after winning the support of European Union leaders for his new
Brexit deal, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has returned to London to try
to secure backing from his fractious Parliament.
Johnson will now need to convince lawmakers who rejected the previous deal
sealed by his predecessor Theresa May three times to vote for the divorce deal
"We all hope that what we decided yesterday will also be accepted in
Westminster," Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said.