Eurozone finance ministers confident of EU long term budget discussion

BRUSSELS, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — Eurozone finance ministers are confident that an agreement will be reached between the Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament on the next seven-year EU budget soon, European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday.

“We have solved many of the issues that are put on the table by the parliament, and we are working to solve the others,” Gentiloni said at a press conference when asked whether the EU Council was still in time to present its budget for 2021 without a multiannual finance framework in place.

“We are quite confident that we will be able to reach an agreement and keep to our timing,” he assured.

The leaders of the 27 EU member states held a marathon meeting in July to find a compromise on a seven-year budget worth 1.07 trillion euros (1.25 trillion U.S. dollars), along with a 750 billion-euro economic recovery package that aims to help EU countries bounce back from the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, MEPs were not pleased with cuts in certain areas that they deemed of utmost importance, such as education where funds for research and Erasmus were cut, adding that they were not ready to “swallow the multiannual financial framework pill.”

Speaking following a Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers, Gentiloni said the ministers had also recalled the three safety nets, which the EU national leaders endorsed in April and became operational in June. The programs, potentially worth 540 billion euros, were designed to protect jobs, small businesses and the EU member states against the economic impact of the pandemic.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the Eurogroup said it considers it’s vital that fiscal support in each member state continues into 2021, given the heightened risk of a delayed recovery, and adjusts to the situation as it evolves.

During the meeting, the ministers were briefed by Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Control on the latest situation of the pandemic, which seems worse than the first wave of outbreaks in spring.

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