Gunther Oettinger

The EU’s budget will have to be scaled back after Brexit, says European Commission Budget Chief Günther Oettinger

A number of “small cuts” will need to occur in the wake of Brexit, suggests EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

The UK is due to withdraw from the union in the spring of 2019. Negotiations began in earnest at the end of last month as the UK tries to hammer out a deal with its European colleagues. While it is unclear where cuts could be made, Oettinger said he was not ruling out the possibility.

In an interview with POLITICO, he said: “At the moment, I don’t want to rule out cuts in any program.

“I want to save as little as possible on research and I do not want to damage the two big programs — farming and cohesion. There, I think small annual cuts of single-figure billions a year are reasonable,” Oettinger said, pointing to the U.K.’s annual contribution of between €10 and €12 billion euros a year to the EU’s budget.”

Planning ahead

The 2019 budget should not feel the pinch after the UK leaves, but planning is already underway for the subsequent period to ensure the holes left following Brexit will be plugged.

One of the main issues of discussion relating to Brexit has been the so-called divorce bill—what the UK will need to pay upon withdrawing from the union. It is thought this departure bill could be in the region of €60bn. Oettinger said negotiations around topic this would begin next week.

The issue over future budgets has come to the forefront as the commission is considering its financial plans. By the middle of next year, proposals will need to be in place for the financial period that begins in 2020.

What cuts will be made and where is unclear but any cuts will not be easy to make, particularly across vital areas such as the migrant crisis and major infrastructure projects.

“We have new challenges and we cannot brutally cut programs,” the commissioner said.


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