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EU budget row: Brexit used as 'excuse' to delay bitter row over Brussels long-term coffers

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The seven-year multiannual financial framework is expected to run between 2021 and 2027, but has been subject to multiple delays as member states row over its size and use. EU leaders will hold virtual talks on Friday to discuss the bloc’s trillion-euro coffers, as well as the planned coronavirus recovery fund. But the European Commission’s former budget chief has claimed Britain’s EU divorce is to blame for bloc dragging its feet over the next financial deal.

Former German eurocrat Gunther Oettinger told Politico Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission used Brexit “as an excuse” to present its budget proposal in May 2018, some five months late.

Mr Oettinger added: “Our work is still accepted as a basis for decision-making.

“There is the Juncker Commission proposal, and on top but embedded, there is the plans for recovery. In this respect our work has not been in vain.”

EU officials have predicted that Brexit has caused a €60-75 billion blackhole in the bloc’s next long-term budget.

The next agreement is expected to be worth €1.1 trillion, with member states sending 1.075 percent of their gross domestic product to Brussels.

A €750 billion coronavirus bailout scheme will be attached the the budget in order to pay for the recovery for pandemic-stricken industries and regions.

Germany, the EU’s richest economy, could see its contribution increased by 42 percent based on the latest EU Commission proposals.

Predictions made in the country’s finance ministry said the cash-rich capital could end up contributing an average of €13 billion more per than than it currently does.

Berlin currently sends an average of €31 billion a year to the EU budget.

But under the latest proposal, the contribution would increase to €44 billion.

Member states have also urged Brussels to take into account the economic threat posed by a no-deal Brexit in addition to the pandemic.

An EU diplomat said: “The Commission has already integrated in its figures the risk of an economic growth problem because of our relationship with the UK.

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Regardless if a deal is struck between the EU and UK, bosses were told they would need to prepare for a very different trading relationship between the two sides.

An EU official said: “What we are consistently trying to remind member states, but also all stakeholders, that under all circumstances – deal or no deal – at the end of the year the commercial relationship between the EU and UK will look very different.

“This is because the UK leaves the single market, the UK leaves the customs union, the UK leaves the whole European Union ecosystem.

“Even with a good and ambitious agreement in place there will not be frictionless movement of goods, services, people and capital that we know from the single market.

“The message from us is very clear, all companies need to get prepared for these scenarios. Lots of companies were preparing for a possible no-deal Brexit back in 2018 and the beginning of 2019, and it’s time to clearly at those plans again.”



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