15 countries fight to protect EU cohesion funding
1 February 2020 : Fifteen countries from southern, central and eastern Europe, which participated Saturday in the “Friends of Cohesion” summit in the city of Beja in Portugal, confirmed the need to quickly reach an agreement on the next European budget.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain signed the closing statement of the summit that took place after Britain’s exit from the European Union.
“It is urgent to reach an agreement on the next European budget, and the member states meeting today have demonstrated their strong desire to conclude a final agreement on February 20,” Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said at a press conference after the discussions.
The “Friends of Cohesion” summit comes three weeks before an extraordinary summit called by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to try to approve the European Union budget for the period between 2021, 2027.
“More than ever, the cohesion of the European Union, which has become more fragile, with the exit of the United Kingdom from it, must be emphasized,” Costa added.
The 17 countries that met in Portugal fear that the next agreement will include significant budget cuts, exacerbated by the UK’s departure from the union.
Despite their attendance at the summit, Croatia preferred to maintain its neutrality, as it currently chairs the Council of the European Union, and Italy has not signed the final statement.
“Friends of Cohesion” are meeting for the third time after a first summit in Bratislava at the end of 2018 and a second summit in Prague last November.