EU Commission seeks increase to long-term foreign affairs budget

Brussels - The European Commission is seeking a 30-per-cent increase to its foreign affairs and development budget for the 2021-2027 period to show EU leadership "in times of uncertainties all over the world," the commission said on Thursday.

The budget, which includes global development and humanitarian aid and funding earmarked for other types of international cooperation, should reach 123 billion euros (145 billion dollars) in the next seven-year budget, up from 94.5 billion euros in the current 2014-2020 cycle, the commission said.

Proposal needs EU member states approval

"In the world of today, there's a growing demand for a strong, reliable, predictable, active European Union at a global level," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

"The common work at European level on external action brings results that no single member state alone can achieve."

The EU, which is already the world's largest donor of development assistance, would dedicate 89 billion euros to international development and cooperation, with special attention to countries in the EU's neighbourhood, under the plan.

The bloc would also spend 11 billion euros on humanitarian aid and 14.5 billion euros on pre-accession aid to EU membership hopefuls.

The structure of the budget should be simplified to allow the bloc to respond to international financial needs more effectively, the commission noted.

Under the proposal, most current existing financial instruments would be merged into one fund, which would be "comprehensive in geographic and thematic terms," Mogherini said.

The proposal will now need to be approved by EU member states and by the European Parliament, which is expected to be a long and acrimonious process.