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Czech PM: Members may not have to raise contributions after Brexit

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Brussels, Jan 29 (CTK) – Czech PM Andrej Babis does not think that the EU members should raise their contributions to the EU after 2020 to fill the gap caused by the departure of Britain, he told journalists after meeting EC President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Monday.

He said European economy has been growing, which is why the 1 percent of GDP, the current EU budget cap, in fact means a larger volume of money.

“The question is how we count it. With our growth, the VAT revenues grow simultaneously, as does the GDP,” said Babis, former Czech finance minister.

A crucial debate on the next budget framework, or the EU finances in 2021-2027, will start in the spring.

The EC has warned that the departure of Britain, a large contributor to the EU budget, will cause a gap worth 12 billion euros. The gap can be partly filled by money saving, but, on the other hand, member countries want spending on new issues such as security and the tackling of the migrant crisis, the EC says.

The commissioner for budget, Gunther Oettinger, recently said the EC proposes to raise the budget cap from 1 percent to 1.1 or 1.2 percent of GDP.

The upcoming debate on the next budget period will also include the issue of EU funds, which is very important for the Czech Republic as a recipient of this money.

Babis said after meeting Juncker and other members of the EC on Monday that the Czech Republic should have a bigger say on where the money should go.

“At present, we have 14 billion for the Internet field [at our disposal] but no one uses the money, we have social programme in no one shows interest,” he said on behalf of Prague.

That is why the Czechs need flexibility so that they can “transform or transfer” the money without having to seek the EC’s consent, he said.

With Juncker, Babis also discussed Prague’s approach to the euro.

The Czech Republic is bound to introduce the euro, but there is no deadline for it to do so. Babis said he repeated the reasons for the Czech lukewarm approach to the euro adoption to Juncker on Monday.

Juncker told him that no one forces anyone into adopting the euro and that it is up to each country to decide on its own.

“Bulgaria is hurrying towards the euro. We are in no hurry,” Babis told journalists, adding that the euro zone faces problems and needs a reform. He said no pressure has been exerted on the Czechs to join the euro zone.

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