Friday

14th May 2021

Brussels has tough time justifying bigger budget

  • European Commission building in Brussels - the executive says that it is undertaking its own administrative cuts (Photo: guppiefish)

The European Commission on Wednesday (25 April) had an uphill struggle explaining why next year's EU budget needs to go up by 6.8 percent, even as it preaches austerity to member states.

The increase - to €138 billion from €129.1 billion for 2012 - is largely due to promised payments for various projects in member states that are now being called in.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The finer points of the EU's multi-annual budget system - which sees member states make payment promises only to baulk at actually footing the bill further down the line - are being lost on the EU public however, as Brussels becomes increasingly associated with hypocrisy on spending.

Both European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski made the case for the extra money.

"[It is] not for me. It is for Europe, the regions of Europe and the workers of Europe," Barroso told press in Brussels. Lewandowski noted that 5.6 percent goes towards paying EU salaries and other administrative costs while the rest goes to "Europe."

They pointed out that they have a "legal obligation" - as do member states - to respect all the commitments made when governments approved the projects.

Not paying up will only increase national debt problems, said Barroso, noting that Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico said as much to him during a visit to Brussels on Tuesday.

"[Fico] said: 'Look, we have now made this payment, if the European budget does not cover these payments as has been promised us, our deficit will increase'."

Lewandowski said the gap between "commitments of the past and payments available" is growing. He explained that the accumulated shortfall had reached around €200 billion at the end of 2011, adding that reducing the budget will exacerbate the problem. He suggested that money was going where it is "desperately" needed.

The draft budget proposes €62.5 billion for "job friendly growth" in Europe - of this €49 billion is for structural and cohesion funds, money that goes to the EU's least developed regions. Some €9 billion has been earmarked for research.

The commission suggested the EU will never manage to complete the single market if it is left to member states to take the initiative to make cross-border investments in areas such as energy. "Frankly you will be waiting forever," said Barroso.

It is likely to have a hard fight on its hands in the current political climate.

France has already said the budget draft is "impossible, unjustifiable and unacceptable." The 2013 budget has to be agreed by member states and the European Parliament.

Luxembourg tax scandal may prompt EU action

An investigation into Luxembourg's tax regime has uncovered how the Italian mafia, the Russian underworld, and billionaires attempt to stash away their wealth. The European Commission has put itself on standby amid suggestions changes to EU law may be needed.

Investigation

Portugal vs Germany clash on EU corporate tax avoidance

Portugal's taking over the EU presidency puts the tax transparency law for corporations - which has been fought over for years - to a vote in the Council of Ministers. The resistance of the German government has failed.

News in Brief

  1. No EUobserver newsletter on Friday 14 May
  2. Germany stops Facebook gathering WhatsApp data
  3. Italy rebuts reports of EU deal with Libya
  4. MEPs demand EU states protect women's reproductive rights
  5. At least nine dead in Russia school shooting
  6. Bulgaria interim government appointed until July election
  7. German priests defy pope to bless same-sex couples
  8. New EU public prosecutor faults Slovenia

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU aims at 'zero pollution' in air, water and soil by 2050
  2. French police arrest Luxembourg former top spy
  3. Vaccine drives spur better-than-expected EU economic recovery
  4. Slovenia causing headaches for new EU anti-graft office
  5. 'No place to hide' in Gaza, as fighting escalates
  6. EU chases 90m AstraZeneca vaccines in fresh legal battle
  7. Fidesz MEP oversees FOI appeals on disgraced Fidesz MEP
  8. Belgium outlines summer Covid relaxation plans

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us