Austria Wants EU Contributions Reduced, Brexit Raises Tensions

  • Austria seeks a revision of the present 1.11 percent GDP contribution proposal.
  • The exit of Britain from the European Union has had an impact on priorities and how much each member state should contribute.
  • At the moment, the largest contributor to the EU is Germany.

Austria is part of a small group of EU countries that are standing up against an increase in contributions to the community budget. As net contributors, Austria— like Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany— takes the position that contributions must not increase exponentially.

Sebastian Kurz is the chancellor of Austria since January 2020, previously holding this position from December 2017 to May 2019. During most of his incumbency, Kurz was the youngest head of government in the world.

Austria seeks a revision of the present 1.11 percent GDP contribution proposal. Sebastian Kurz, the state’s current Chancellor, says that the present figure is too high. Vienna wants the rate to remain at one percent. The following is the formal statement by the Austrian leader.

“If this proposal is introduced, we will not support it, and neither will the other E.U. net contributors, I think. The 1.11 percent is still not acceptable to us. So there would be a veto on our part here. I do hope that we will be presented with a new proposal that we will hopefully be able to accept.”

EU Council President Charles Michel is expected to table a new proposal covering years 2021 to 2027 in the next week. In the meantime, he will be finalizing negotiations with other E.U. nations ahead of the scheduled February 20 summit. Kurz hopes that the latest proposal will be a good basis for discussions during the meeting. A 1.07 percent proposal had been put forward by Finland’s Presidency of the Council in December last year, but has yet to be approved.

Brexit (a portmanteau of “British” and “exit”) was the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU). Following a June 2016 referendum, in which 52% voted to leave, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017, beginning the Brexit process.

The Austrian Chancellor affirms that budget priorities are clear, but there are few differences in opinion. Among the primary points of contention is the amount of funds allocated to certain projects. There are some new top priorities as well, such as the protection of the bloc’s external borders, environmental matters, migration, and research and innovation. Apart from Austria, the Netherlands has announced that it wants a reduction in budgetary contributions as it embarks on an extensive modernization program.

The Brexit Factor

The exit of Britain from the European Union has had an impact on priorities and how much each member state should contribute. It has left the association with an annual budgetary deficit of approximately €9 billion. The UK additionally possessed nuclear arms. Its departure has left France as the sole nation with nuclear weapons in the bloc.

The sudden scramble to restructure policies is causing a few tremors within EU circles. Just a few days ago, Italy called upon other member states to respect its position in the group while underlining that after Brexit, it’s become a top contributor.

According to Italian MEP Matteo Adinolfi, “Italy must remain in the European Union, but it must also have the place it deserves because today, after Brexit, we have become the third European contributor.” At the moment, the largest contributor to the organization is Germany. Its annual contributions are forecasted to surge to about €14 billion a year.

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Samuel Gush. W

Samuel Waweru is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.


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