European lawmakers refuse to accept current EU budget deal

European lawmakers refuse to accept current EU budget deal

EU parliamentarians will not agree to the EU‘s long-term budget deal as it currently stands, they said on Thursday, venting anger over slashes to spending.

The European Parliament has to approve the 1.074-trillion-euro (1.245-billion-dollar) EU budget that was adopted on a political level on Tuesday.

The deal came after intense four-day negotiations among EU leaders that saw the talks almost fail multiple times.

But while most leaders hailed the package as “historic,” lawmakers from all seven political groups in parliament remained critical on Thursday.

“We are for the moment not ready to swallow the bitter pill you were referring to,” European People’s Party president Manfred Weber said, citing an earlier expression used by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Weber said the proposal of the EU‘s long-term budget had seen dramatic cuts in the health sector, for example, which he said was “unbelievable” in times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Other cuts included the areas of innovation and defence, the leader of the biggest political group in the EU Parliament said.

The package also needed a clear definition of how the rule of law was tied to EU money spending, the chair of the centre-right group said.

Over the past days EU leaders had given starkly diverging interpretations of the issue: While French President Emmanuel Macron claimed the budget made spending conditional on a respect for the rule of law, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said no such link had been established.

Garcia Perez from the social democrats – the second-biggest political faction in parliament – said her group “will not accept” the agreement’s foreseen cuts in future-oriented programmes.

Chairs from all other political groups also voiced their criticism.