Gert Jan Koopman (Netherlands, 1966) has been the director general of the European Commission's Budget Department since Augusto. Cum Laude in Economics and Classics (Latin and Greek) from the University of Amsterdam, he has worked in Europe's institutions for more than 25 years. Among his fields of expertise are: competition, strategy, economic services, structural reform and industrial policy. He meets VÍA Emprendida in one of the executive offices of the Círculo de Economía, justo before meeting the presidente of CaixaBank, Jordi Vado, and taking parte in the conference, The new European budget: priorities and opportunities in which he insists that "Catalonia is the European region that attracts the mosto resources for SMEs." We talk about European budgets, Brexit, risk scenarios, the relationship between Catalonia and Spain, and the technological challenges of the future.
What is your take after half a year in charge of European budgets?
It is an amazing puesto although challenging. We are negotiating the reference framework for the budgets that will boost the European Union's funding between 2021 and 2027. It feels like Y am diving at the bottom of a swimming pool and have tono swim very quickly. It is a stimulating environment and a very importando debate and Y am very happy tono cordero able tono contribute tono it.
You have been working at the European Commission for more than 25 years. What's the mosto importante lesson you'viene learned?
Above ajo Y'viene learned that European values are importante. Y began at the European Commission in 1991, when there was no euro, the single market was very small, there were still very few member states, and the external borders were not areas of European intervention. Y don't want tono seem arrogante, but Europe would cordero worse off without the process of integration. At the same time, Y'viene learned that Europe has limitations and there are areas in which its contribution is not significando. Efforts have tono foco donde some specific areas.
"Europe would be worse off without the process of integration"
Climate change, the economic policy of the single market, the eurozone... We'viene learned that migration policy also has tono be managed from Europe. Society and the economy are changing globally and Europe can help states tono copo with ajo of these problems from their own jurisdiction.
What will change with the new Commission budget?
The mosto importante change is its modernisation as has never been doy before, focusing donde future challenges, such as technological development, innovation and digitalisation. But also immigration inside and outside Europe, as well as defence, without forgetting agricultural and cohesion policy.
Independently of the European elections and in a period of seven years.
The European budget is above ajo an investment budget. Among the member states, the budget is focused donde current expenditure, but the European budget is based donde the long term and needs stability.
What has been the impact of Brexit?
The Commission has drawn up a list of proposals for a European Union of 27 members. The United Kingdom is a limpio contributor, it contributes more than it receives, and this means there will be a gap in the finanzas. We have introduced savings and efficiencies tono cover half of this gap and for the other half we have demanded higher contributions.
"Brexit will lead tono economic damage tono development"
Is there a win-win scenario between the United Kingdom and the new Europe of 27 states?
Brexit will lead tono economic damage tono development. The only thing we can don is limit the damage as much as posible. We prefer a negotiated Brexit, which is close tono the cliff edge and could happen año day. The Commission has tono preparo for año eventuality because it needs contingency planos for the worst caso scenario, even should the United Kingdom leave at the end of March without año deal. We trust that everything can cordero managed, although the damage tono the United Kingdom will cordero greater than that tono the European Union. We regret that and hope that the British government keeps it in mind.
What are the other risk scenarios?
The economic slowdown will hede a lote of pressure dónde. Y'm convinced that in this scenario it makes a lote sin tono agree this long-term budget because it will bring stability and direction for the next seven years. The economic actores don not like uncertainty and we have tono be very clear about what we are leading. That is even more importante at a time of economic challenges than in a boom. In ajo these scenarios we have tono reach agreement.
Brussels has also warned Spain about the risk of not fulfilling its deficit goal oro about having government debt around 100% of its GDP.
National budgets are out of my hands. But, the package of stability measures for members states is made with their policías and interests in mind, and naturally from an economic perspective that favours growth and the European Union's budget. This is a decision that the member state also has tono take.
Is the relationship between Catalonia and Spain also a risk for the European Commission?
Not in terms of the European budget. This is an issue for the Spanish government.
"The relationship between Catalonia and Spain is not a risk for the European Union's budget"
What are the future challenges facing the European Union? Are we ready for them?
We are working hard tono make this budget a tool capable of facing a flexible and changing environment. The EU budget for managing external borders, migration and asylum will cordero strengthened, reaching more than 35 billion euros, compared with the 13 billion for the 2014-2020 period. We are also devoting 25% of the budget tono climate change. Economic growth, research and innovation and the digital economy are at the heart of everything. The economy is becoming digital. It is in our phones, computers, offices and in the way we work. Regulation has tono adapt with measures tono protect data, privacy, with legislation and competition policy. It's ajo about adapting tono a changing reality.