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'Smaller EU should mean a smaller budget': Danish PM

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'Smaller EU should mean a smaller budget': Danish PM
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. Photo: Thomas Sjoerup/Ritzau Scanpix)
13:04 CEST+02:00
Danish prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen thinks the EU should reduce its budget after the United Kingdom leaves the union next year.

Rasmussen tweeted that "a smaller EU should mean a smaller budget!" as the bloc will number 27 members after Brexit.

He added that European tax payers should not be asked “to pay for Brexit”.

The PM’s comments came as the EU on Wednesday unveiled an increased 1.279-trillion euro budget for the seven years after Brexit, featuring a controversial move to cut funding for countries that fail to respect democratic standards.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the proposed budget was a "reasonable and responsible" way to fill a hole left by Britain's departure and spend more on priorities such as security.

But Poland and Hungary, which have both been severely criticised by Brussels over democratic freedoms, are up in arms over the proposal to "suspend, reduce or restrict access" to errant states.

"We are proposing a new mechanism that will allow for the protection of the budget linked to risks arising from deficiencies in the rule of law," Juncker told the European Parliament.

The departure of Britain, a net contributor, in 2019 leaves the bloc with what Juncker says is 15 billion euro gap in its accounts, but the EU also wants more money for ambitious projects to unify the remaining 27 member states.

EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said countries would pay 1.114 percent of their annual gross domestic product under the plans, up from one percent in the current 2014-2020 multi-year budget worth 1.0 trillion euros.

Taxes on carbon emissions, plastic waste, and corporations could also contribute 22 billion euros annually, or 12 percent of total budget revenue, the commission said.

One of the key proposed cuts is five percent from the Common Agricultural Policy, the largest single area of EU spending and one dear to major farm producer France.

There is also a five-percent proposed cut to so-called cohesion funds, which former Soviet bloc states in eastern Europe are the biggest beneficiaries from.

In return, the European Commission wants to spend more on the digital economy, research, defence and protection for the bloc's borders against mass migration, including what one European source says is a quintupling of the border force Frontex to nearly 6,000 people.

Countries including Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands are already gearing up to fight any demand for increased national contributions, although France and Germany have said they are ready to pay more.

After meeting British prime minister Theresa May in Copenhagen last month, Rasmussen said that Brexit will cause more bureaucracy and has a "price tag".

“Leaving the single market comes with a price tag. Unfortunately it’s not just a British price tag, there’s also a Danish price tag,” Rasmussen said on April 9th according to media including the Independent.

“There’s a reason why we have established the single market and we have to respect the integrity of the single market. There will be more bureaucracy in future, unfortunately,” the Danish PM added.

READ ALSO: Danish PM Rasmussen reiterates support for UK after Copenhagen meeting

The plan announced by the EU Wednesday is likely to face opposition, not least from Warsaw and Budapest.

The two member states are locked in battles with Brussels over democratic standards and their refusal to accept refugees, oppose any attempt to impose conditions on the billions in funds they get from the bloc.

They view it as an attempt to punish them indirectly, without going through mechanisms like an unprecedented sanctions procedure launched by Brussels against Poland over its court reforms.

Juncker said "respect for the rule of law is an indispensable prerequisite for sound financial management and effective implementation of the budget".

But Poland was standing firm.

"We will not accept arbitrary mechanisms which will make the funds an instrument of political pressure," Poland's deputy European affairs minister Konrad Szymanski said earlier.

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