Taoiseach predicts steep rise in Ireland’s contribution to the EU budget

Varadkar says he is ‘okay’ with rise as it reflects the strength of the Irish economy

 President-elect of the European Council Charles Michel  is welcomed by  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

President-elect of the European Council Charles Michel is welcomed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Friday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland’s contribution to the EU budget will rise “very significantly” when it is renegotiated.

The 28 member states, 27 when the UK leaves, are currently in the process of negotiating the next EU multi-annual financial framework (MFF) which will set out the budget for the next seven years from 2021.

Speaking at a press conference with the president-elect of the EU Council, Charles Michel, Mr Varadkar said the rise in Irish contributions will be as a result of economic growth in recent years.

“We are okay about that. As a country that was a net beneficiary of the EU budget, we are going to become a net contributor, but what we gained from the EU is much greater than what we contribute financially.”

Ireland became a net contributor to the EU budget in 2013 and last year’s net contribution was €720 million.*

That is based on an estimation that Ireland paid €2.3 billion into EU coffers and received back some €2 billion in EU benefits, most of it paid to farmers through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The EU Commission has estimated that Ireland could end up paying an extra €760 million a year in the EU budget under proposals as set out in the MFF for 2021 to 2028.

Mr Michel will take over from outgoing EU Council president Donald Tusk on December 1st. Mr Varadkar praised Mr Tusk’s respect for smaller member states and said he expected that pattern to continue as Mr Michel was the former Belgian prime minister.

Mr Michel said the EU Council remained ready to deal with the UK once the British election is held on December 12th and a new government is elected.

“We are ready to co-operate with the UK. We are ready to promote and defend the level playing field to protect the integrity of the Single Market,” Mr Michel added.

“It is important to keep close co-operation with the UK. It is important to work together with the UK at an economic level.”

When asked if he agreed with British prime minister Boris Johnson that a trade deal could be done with the EU by December 2020, Mr Michel said EU members showed they could work together by agreeing to amend the Withdrawal Agreement which got rid of the backstop.

“I don’t know what will happen in December after the British election, but it will be important for us to be ready,” he said.

“I repeat we are ready to negotiate. We are ready to be loyal in this negotiation and we will be transparent. We will be very committed to promote the level playing field and to protect the single market and to try and find the best possible agreement for the future relationship. I hope it will be possible to reach an agreement.

“It is our intention to show serenity and respect for the British authorities, but at the same time it is important to us to defend a fair competitive playing field.”

*Article amended on December 4th, 2019