In the run-up to the European Council in Brussels on 7 and 8 February, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy has recorded a video message on the EU's budget negotiations.
The text of his message is:
In only two days, the European Council will begin its final negotiations on our Union’s budget for the next seven years. In fact, it will be our budget for the rest of this decade. And a budget that Member States will need to agree with the European Parliament.
Budget talks are always difficult, lengthy and can look messy from the outside – and sometimes even from the inside. It happens that we get so absorbed by small details during the negotiations that the bigger picture gets lost. We should not forget the bigger picture – because this is what really matters. To me the bigger picture is this:
First, that the budget must help us tackle the most urgent problems. Youth unemployment is the biggest challenge in Europe right now. That is why – on Thursday – I will propose a new youth employment initiative with a substantial amount of money. This money will be targeted to the most afflicted regions, to get young people back into jobs.
Second, the budget must be an engine for growth and jobs in the future. That is why it is so important that we increase - in real terms - spending on research, innovation and education. And we must maximise the growth and employment potential of all our policies, from cohesion to agriculture. We need more value for our money.
Third, the budget must a budget of moderation – reflecting the savings efforts in our Member States. That is why – for the first time ever – there will be a real terms cut, compared to the current budget.
To achieve a deal in the European Council this week, all leaders will need to be ready to compromise and to make choices. Just like we did during the crisis in the euro zone.
After the agreement at the summit, we will need to reach a final agreement with the European Parliament. Here also we all need to be ready to compromise. That’s how Europe works.
Only when we all agree will we have fulfilled our task: delivering a budget for our Union for the rest of this decade – an indispensable tool for growth and jobs.