The showdown on the EU budget has opened up new divisions
For all the talk of unity, EU policymakers love a good grouping. They split post-recession economies into “catching-up” countries and those making “backwards progress”, separate people into “Europhiles” against “Eurosceptics” and divide those outside the bloc by their status as “associate” and “third” countries.
Negotiations around the 2021-27 budget have brought about a new split (see cover). It’s a battle of the “frugal four”—Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, who want to keep the budget stable—against the “friends of cohesion”, 15 member states who want bigger budgets, especially for regional development.