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Juncker seeks bigger EU budget despite Brexit

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European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called Monday for nations to pay more into the EU budget after 2020 to fill a Brexit void and meet growing needs on defence, migration and climate change.

[BRUSSELS] European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called Monday for nations to pay more into the EU budget after 2020 to fill a Brexit void and meet growing needs on defence, migration and climate change.

Brussels proposed increasing the budget from one per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) in the 2014-2020 budget to 1.1 per cent of GDP in the next multi-year budget following Britain's departure.

The current budget was set at 963 billion euros (S$1.54 trillion).

"We need more than one per cent of European GDP, quite clearly, if we are to pursue European policies and fund them adequately," Mr Juncker told a conference in Brussels.

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"It costs the European taxpapyer one cup of coffee a day. Europe is worth more than one cup of coffee a day."

Eurosceptic campaigners in Britain's June 2016 referendum called on voters to "take back control" of British money, arguing that London sent too much to Brussels and gained little in return.

Britain will leave the EU in March 2019 but has agreed to pay its financial contributions to the bloc until the current seven-year EU budget period expires at the end of 2020.

But EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger of Germany said that Britain's departure would leave a hole of 12-13 billion euros, and backed Juncker's call for a bigger share of Europe's GDP to go towards the EU.

"I'm not talking about two or three per cent. Just 1.1 something. That is what I'm fighting for," Mr Oettinger told the same conference.

In May, the Commission, the EU executive, is due to adopt a detailed proposal for the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF), which Mr Oettinger said should be from 2021 until 2027.

Mr Oettinger, whose country is the biggest contributor to the bloc's budget, said he would deliver his message when he visits European capitals in the next few months.

The European Parliament and the European Council, which groups the EU member states, will then negotiate the details before finally approving the budget, with unanimity required in the council.

Mr Oettinger, who forecast a year of tough negotiations, warned that "big cuts" will be needed in some programmes even as his commission called for fresh revenue.

New demands included fighting terrorism, protecting borders as migrants surge to Europe's shores and building a common European defence, spending more on research and making the bloc's economy more competitive in the digital age.

He said more money will also be needed to respond to natural disasters, which he warned will increase as a result of climate change. Southern Europe was plagued last year by forest fires.

AFP