Swedish finance minister slams ‘unreasonable’ EU budget

Swedish finance minister slams 'unreasonable' EU budget
Swedish finance minister Magdalena Andersson. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Sweden has hit back at the European Commission after it asked for an estimated extra 15 billion kronor a year to help plug the Brexit budget gap.
The Swedish government said the European Commission wants it to increase its payment to the European Union (EU) budget by 35 percent in in 2021-2027 period compared to its average payment from 2014-2020. 
“This is an unreasonable proposal. We cannot accept this,” Finance minister Magdalena Andersson told Sweden's TT newswire, after the budget proposal was published on Wednesday. 
“Sweden has contributed an enormous amount, partly as a net contributor to the European Union and partly because we have taken disproportionate responsibility for the 2015 refugee crisis,” she said. 
Swedish former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt worked side-by-side with Britain in 2013 to drive through the first ever real-terms cut to the European Union's budget. 
But this year, the Commission wants the budget to return to growth, aiming to increase it from around 1 percent of the bloc's GDP in 2014-2020 to 1.11 percent in the next period. According to the government's estimates, this would be the equivalent of an extra 15 billion kronor for Sweden.
With France and Germany now working closely together to deliver reforms to the Eurozone, and the UK out, Sweden's only allies in fighting to slim the budget are now smaller countries like Denmark, Austria and The Netherlands. 
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the budget was was a “pragmatic plan for how to do more with less”. 
When Britain leaves the EU, more than 100 billion kronor will disappear from its annual budget. At the same time, the EU has recently taken on new responsibilities around border control, migration and defence. 
“The ball is now in the court of Parliament and Council. I strongly believe we should aim to have agreement before the European Parliament elections next year,” Juncker said. 
Andersson said she was in favour of some of the proposals in the budget, particularly a move to reduce EU financial support to countries, such as Poland and Hungary, which are weakening the rule of law. 
“There's going to be some extremely tough negotiations,” Andersson said about the budget. “Some people seem to think there's going to be some kind of easy solution to this, but that's not what I see ahead.” 
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