Irish receipts from EU may decline
Ireland will probably experience a slight decline in real terms in receipts from the European Union between now and 2020 under the proposed new seven-year EU budget, an Oireachtas Committee has been told.
Members of the Finance Committee were updated this afternoon by officials from several Government departments on the EU's Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), which will come up for decision at the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels next week.
EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy was unsuccessful in his attempts to find agreement on the MFF among leaders at the summit meeting last November.
Niamh Campbell of the Department of Finance said that a budget of €1,033 billion was being proposed for the EU between 2014 and 2020. This compares to total appropriations of some €993 billion for the seven-year budgetary framework coming to an end this year. While it represents a slight rise in nominal terms, the figure implies a small drop in real terms.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said this morning that she was confident of a successful outcome next week.
Responding to a question from committee chair Ciaran Lynch, Kyle O'Sullivan of the Department of An Taoiseach said Mr Van Rompuy wound not bring the proposal back to the European Council unless he thought there would be a successful outcome. He said Mr Van Rompuy had made no new proposals as yet but expected that he would make those proposals on the first day of the two-day summit on Thursday.
Mr O'Sullivan outlined some of Ireland's priorities in the MFF negotiations, which have been ongoing since last September, which included optimising the country's budgetary position and promoting growth in Europe. The priorities also included protecting the Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion funds.
He told the committee CAP and rural development represented the vast bulk of Ireland's funding from the EU, amounting to €1.6 billion of the €1.9 billion the State received in 2011.
In the same year, Ireland contributed €1.35 billion to the EU budget, leaving Ireland in a position where it was a net recipient with a gain of €585 million in 2011.
Ms Campbell and Mr O'Sullivan displayed a graph that showed that Ireland had the highest net income per capital of all recipient countries in 2011.
"That comes up in negotiations a lot," said Mr O''Sullivan, indicating that some other Member States may have contended that Ireland should join the 11 other states which are net contributors to the budget.
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly suggested that research conducted by Deutschebank indicated Ireland was already a net contributor.
Ms Campbell said the methodology was not complex. "We are definitely a net beneficiary. There is no doubt about that," she said.
In his summary, Mr O'Sullivan said that group of net contributors wished to reduce the overall budget, with some pushing for a figure of about €940 billion. He said on the other side of the argument, supporters of cohesion policy were pressing very hard for it to be protected.
On CAP and agricultural funding, department official Brid Cannon said Ireland's receipts between 2014 and 2020 "will probably decline slightly based on the Commission proposals".
Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party described the heading, Smart and Inclusive Growth, as meaning the exactly opposite. He said party colleague Paul Murphy MEP had told the EU parliament that security research in the Horizon 2020 amounting to €2 billion could be used for military rather than the intended civilian purposes.
"The American military are not a patch on the EU when it comes to inventing language," said Mr Higgins. "EU money [may be used] to fund weapons of mass destruction. Can I bring my concern and total objection to that to the attention of the Government."