budgetLater today, European leaders will be meeting in Brussels to discuss the EU’s next seven-year budget. Despite such negotiations regularly stretching into the early hours, this week’s summit may drag on even longer than usual (and, potentially, be even more ill-tempered). Journalists and diplomats are being advised to “pack an extra shirt or two” in case the summit isn’t over by the weekend.

Whilst British Prime Minister David Cameron has attracted a lot of attention because of his threats to veto the budget if spending isn’t frozen, fully one third of EU member states have so far said they are also prepared to use their veto. The two most contentious areas of the budget are agricultural subsidies, which represent 46.7% of the total EU budget, and structural and cohesion funds, which account for 30.4% of the budget and are designed primarily to assist Europe’s poorer regions and reduce regional economic disparities.

Some countries, including the UK, Sweden and The Netherlands, would like to see a reduction in agricultural subsidies and cohesion funds, whilst another group of countries, including France, Austria, Romania, Italy, Spain and Poland, have all threatened to veto negotiations if those funds are significantly cut. A further challenge will be the question of “rebates”, with some countries (including Britain, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands and Austria) under pressure to reduce or abandon their rebates, whilst Denmark is threatening to block negotiations unless it recieves a new rebate worth €134 million.

Ahead of the budget negotiations, we spoke to Martin Callanan, British Conservative MEP and Chairman of the Conservatives – (e.g. AECR) group, and took some of your comments and questions to him for his reaction.

We began with a comment from Davey, who argued:

The UK should simply cut its contributions unilaterally in line with the clear will of the taxpayer. This is OUR money, not the EU’s whose accounts are so corrupt they cannot be signed off. If they don’t like our reduction in our contribution then we leave! Simple!

Is it really as simple as that?

Next, we had a comment sent in by Rallan concerning the long-term future of the EU, arguing that:

I would be interested in discussing what form a semi-detached ‘outer EU’ group of nations might take, or if such an arrangement would be simply unacceptable?

This “two-speed” vision of the EU is something that many reform-minded Conservatives seem to support in the UK. So, how would Martin Callanan see such an arrangement working in practice?

Finally, we had a comment sent in from André, which said:

I myself am a Euro-Federalist, yet I believe that a referendum in the UK on whether the UK should leave the EU or not is best both for the United Kingdom and the European Union. The EU would function just fine without the UK, perhaps even better! Division is not needed in the European Union, the less the better.

What do YOU think? In a time of fiscal austerity, when national public budgets are being slashed, should the EU budget also be cut? Or would reducing agricultural subsidies and cohesion funds (including to poorer regions) undermine European solidarity and growth? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

42 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Maria João Neves

    Of course not!! It should be reformed and increased!! And it must be discussed and resolved the new financing using its own resources

  2. avatar
    Ivan Drvarič

    Well what good the cutting will do if there will be the army of unemployed people from Eu bureacracy. Maybe new ideas for how to produce added value. With this added value further education and access to education and awareness and consiousness of interdependence should be raised so that older people, younger people, people that are not at the moment in the chance to express creativity gets the blessing to expand consiousness of interdepenedence. So that more wealth is used for education and personal transformation and stress built on fear for living costs is diminished.

  3. avatar
    Cristian Sandor

    no! to foster growth in Europe we must increase the budget! Maybe Europe could do another step in fighting asymmetric shocks and becoming an OCA!

  4. avatar
    Catarina Passos

    The EU is not in a financial crisis, only the PIIGE countries are. And these are essential to the socio-economic identity of the Union. Having said that, I think that the EU should increase its budget – even if for doing so it needs to slightly augment its general debt. The net contributors cannot eliminate from the debate all the profits they take from accessing these countries’ markets.

  5. avatar
    Dana Mošničková

    The audita in the Czech Republic makes it the worst of all the troubled countries of the European Union. Wheather the current plan of action can change the existing failure or not remains to be seen. The European Comission will continue to monitor the Audit problem. The CZ Republic is close to joining Eurodoctrin. However as a people we do not agree with A simple procedure that dffects the CZ Citizens. We can not influence quality audits. Therefor we demand disagree with the EU and demand other Law enforcement means be designed by competant officials. We are the EU and have confidance in working this out to please everyone. Currently we have no means to appeal aginst our officials. The electorial law is wrong and bad for CZ citizens and violance has no place in the government of a people here or anywhere.

  6. avatar
    Juan Vázquez García

    We don’t need more government. We need less government. The government only makes problems bigger. Less bureaucracy and regulations and more power and liberty to the people.

  7. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    O que hoje a Europa esta a viver é uma crise politica entre os lideres europeus e não uma crise finaceira porque muitos governos da UE nunca declararam a verdade economica e finaceira agora aparece o novo orçamento da UE este orçamento tem que ser aprovado e discutido com uma união de politicas de todos os paises

  8. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    Yes of course EU budget must cut too, because it is Justice. Meanwhile the austherity is not a true method against the crisis.

  9. avatar
    Michael Tsikalakis

    Not many people can comment seriously on the EU budget except those who have thorough knowledge of the numbers. I can state though that every budget today has to be checked for unneeded expenses.

  10. avatar
    Roberto Bonacina

    The EU budget should be increased. The answer to our European problems is more Europe, in an effective federal way!

  11. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    It’s not a matter of should the EU budget be cut, rather how can we cut the cost of duplication. Too much funds are wasted at national level for activities that should be handled by the EU. Only when the sovereign powers will be mitigated to the EU parliament and national institutions eradicated from duplication will we be able to save billions. Hence, as this process takes place automatically will the EU budget increase. However this increase ought to be as a consequence of reduced national expenses. Of course the EU must be seen working as a good parent and show efficiency end effectiveness when spending, like closing down Strasbourg and consolidating all EU administration in Brussels. Only when the EU project will have succeeded in the establishment of a true open internal market will we have a budget in balance.

  12. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    it definitely needs a restructuring… we waste too much money on some things, and not enough in some others… I do not know what the balance should be when we cut from some things and increase the budget in some others.. but we certainly must reform the whole thing.. cut some funds from CAP for example and invest it in innovation, new industries, education, common defense policy and the arts.. a European Hollywood maybe? we must ensure that Europe is not just a market, but also promote our own culture and arts to the rest of the world. Just look at America..How much money to they make out of their movie industry world wide? isn’t it time for Europe to enter this game too? I am just saying….

  13. avatar
    Radu Micu

    If EU and NA will keep on spending the money on stupid issues it’s even. Wake up! It’s the perfect time for doing this.

  14. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    Well, maybe time that EU officials pay proper taxes as well, and no longer benefit from subsidised lunches and diners paid by the taxpayer.

  15. avatar
    prem bahadur manjhi

    EU budget should definetly cut in the field of agriculture subsidies and open for out side of eu countries to acess agriculture market. The budget should increase in the field of structural development and welfare scheme. The time has come to harmonisation of fiscal deficit at eu level. Higher taxation should impose on industrialist or bussiness persons. The bigger question is here who shocked the money, is it general people or idustrialist? we usally see any criss had taken place it is not the cost of general people they work hard and get wages but idustrialist work less and useing workforce they have become millinare or trilinire and in the agriculture sector bigger farmer are benifited without any positive development but they are the pressure group. But general people is maintaing same status or something has changed in their livlelyhood after neoliberal policy. So, there is no question for shocking money in terms of general people. In terms of idustralist, if we see data they are making money and competition between them few of them are lossing. However, they are having money and many people of eu cuntries are living in worse condition. So it is clear that money has been shocked by idustrialist or businessman then why welfare scheme is cutting off at the cost of general people in the name of austirity mesure. Eu is known for rule of law , democracy, liberty, fertanity, equality and best living condition of their people in the world. If general people wil not happy these masures as eu is known for that it has no meaning. It is clear mandate can be seen that in eu member countries there are several government changes for austerity massures. however, eu shuld take as alarm from peole side, and they should take some balancing step to protect the benifit for both side and regulatry system in the banking sector and competition policy with profit margin should make in such a way to protect the market and control the higher profit making for the benifit of the all human being.

  16. avatar
    Juan Vázquez García

    Yes, cut spending. We don’t need to be regulating and financing so much stuff. Let markets regulate themselves. We don’t need to promote good or bad behavior, that’s not our job. Stop interfering with markets, making things, especially basic necessities, so expensive. The more the government funds things, the more expensive they become and the poorer the quality gets.

  17. avatar
    Tullio Colombo

    EU members are engaged in their internal budget spending reviews, why not a spending review for Europe? Not for less but for the best.

  18. avatar
    Christina Panagolia

    The European budget must be streamlined to meet the real needs of European citizens. But above all we must not forget that we are talking about people and not only about numbers. If we consider of a progressive European Union must not forget our citizens. This will show our highest level and culture.

  19. avatar
    Eleonora Fornai

    European leaders have to invest in european integration. It’s wrong to introduce a gap between rich nations and nations of south Europe. This is what it is happening with fiscal austerity and reforms in Labour Law that are destroying rights of workers in some nations (Italy, Greece, Spain). I suggest to introduce a european trade union system. If we are Europeans, we are all Europeans with same rights!

  20. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Since the EU no longer exists as it was meant to, that being to defend member nations, in a collective (EU) against the lunacy of this global competition of slave labour, protection against the evils of US mafia capitalism and

    Since the EU now work for these global lunatics and consequently enslaving all Europeans in this global mafia economic system, including being forced into their evil aggressions.

    The EU should be immediately abolished.

    Free Europe and Europeans now! End the globalist controlled EU. Set our nations free :)…..pj

  21. avatar
    Θοδωρής ζτ

    First of all, we have to look the role of European Union.
    Some countries, need to have a cut in their very big national debts to continue, some other don’t need other budget, so they have to cut something. Europe is a union, so, when someone needs help, the others have to help.. If we don’t change our minds, whole Europe will have very very big problems in some years. So, in my opinion, the monetary policy has to be more flexible for the “weak” countries, and the governments have to be smaller! Give the chance to the citizens! Young people can change many things! They owe nothing and they want to live without austerity and so much taxes. Give them the chance to prove that they can change Europe!

  22. avatar

    1° — Surprisingly few arguments are presented by thoses who would increase the EU budget. Apparently, their enthousiasm is enough? Ever heard of Pros and Cons? I don’t even dare to think about measuring effectivity of EU work so far. (Antibiotics? OGM?)
    2° — If the EU is in fact already multi-layered, why not give priority to building a layer of thoses countries who are already exemplary in accountability, transparancy and … speaking English (or Globish)! May all those excellent interpreters find work as TEFL language teachers in young member states… in the end, France will follow too.

  23. avatar

    I would rather the budget was frozen in real terms, thoroughly examined and then funds re-purposed. We need to see the back of the CAP for countries like France and Spain, the Single Payment, which makes up the bulk of CAP spending, goes to people just for owning land the more land they have the more subsidies they receive. It is a ridiculous situation which does not encourage productivity. Once CAP spending on rich French farmers has stopped then all those rebates can go too. Money saved can then go to needier nations like Greece.

    EU bureaucrats shouldn’t be exempt from belt tightening, everyone else is having to do it, if they show a little solidarity and it may go a long way to improving their image. Avoid job cuts by all means, the last thing we need it more unemployed civil servants and a skill losses, but between them I’m sure they’re capable of finding savings.

    It is not beyond the wit of man to spend that enormous EU budget more wisely, who knows, maybe if they can prove they can spend it more carefully then governments might be more willing to negotiate in future!

  24. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    I believe that a Nation Agency of Expenses should be created in every european country so that their expenses be monitored at the time of the expense. Any low effect of the expense should be terminated and an alternative better effect to be seek! This will eliminate corruption and will result in better money spending as the price/effect will be monitored!

  25. avatar
    Future of Rural Energy in European (FREE) initiative

    The decisions taken regarding the EU budget will indeed have a great impact on the quality of life of European citizens and on our capacity to prepare for the next generation of energy systems. These decisions will have a long-standing consequences for the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Europe. New energy patterns (sources, uses, technologies) take years – if not decades – to materialize and our budget decisions today need to reflect the energy needs of tomorrow.
    Energy efficiency is one of the areas which should be supported by different EU funding schemes. In the current proposal on the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund, energy efficiency is mentioned as an area which needs to be further promoted. Therefore it is important to acknowledge the role of Cohesion Policy in financing such projects. Further budget cuts or lack of stimulation of energy efficiency by national governments could have a negative impact on the level of energy saved, while closing the door to the growth and jobs in EU regions that this industry could generate at local level.
    More about this topic can be found in a ‘White Paper’ recently published by the Future of Rural Energy in European initiative: http://www.rural-energy.eu/uploads/documents/freewhitepaper.pdf

  26. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    Smaller budget, less economic help to weaker economies, less integration, more differences, more social instability. Then weaker economies import less and the most developed countries loose their exports. Everybody will suffer.

  27. avatar
    Miguel Verissimo

    We are rethinking scales of power in EU…. And what’s going on in EU, is that the biggest economies are buying power putting weaker countries on their knees. That’s not EU spirit for sure. What’s the use for Germany to have servants instead of innovative and creative diversity? EU should be as a body. Stronger economies must aid the weakest!!! They have the power for natural reasons people and votes. That’s not the point. The point is solidarity and that’s not bullshit it’s the very basis of EU. Another issue is the access to resources and political network. An example – Portugal and Spain are better positioned in South and Asian economies to defend EU interests than Germany… What Germany can profit treating Iberia as they are?

  28. avatar
    Hasan Özdemir

    ?f you think of in the our context or countries context, you might believe the most power countries are buying weaker countries in EU. But in that viewpoint might made by serious mistakes. EU is a transnational institution and its the last purpose to ruin to the national structures and it is so true in my opinion.Because the reason of weakness of weaker countries leans to have traditional structures in every land. Capitalism has to enhance and to sublimate every sort of structure That’ why they must ruin and new structures must replace.

  29. avatar

    Yes, it should be cut to zero. We do not need the undemocratic EU. Better off without. All we need is an intergovernmental Economic Community. We don’t need hordes of unelected, overpaid, income-tax-exempt politicians making laws for us we cannot reject (= undemocratic).

    If we reduce the budget to zero and abolish the EU we’d be better off. We can keep and spend all the money at home, without useless Brusselcrats siphoning some 10% off before ‘graciously’ returning some of the loot to us. Its our money to begin with! Cut out the middle man, do the spending on a national level and have money to spare!

    • avatar

      Garbage. You can’t have an Economic Community without some level of intergovernmental decision making and integration. Plus you’re assuming that national governments are somehow magically better at doing everything. A more cost efficient way would be to abolish the 27 separate bureaucrats and just have one. And sure the richer countries pay out more than they get back but so bloody what? About damned time for most of them. And that money goes to developing other EU markets so that Germans can keep selling cars, Britain’s banks can keep getting rich and the French can keep doing whatever it is they think they’re good at.

      Oh and I think we all agree the democratic deficit needs sorting out as soon as possible. One electable President and non-national political parties will fix that.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      The only answer to the democratic deficit is referendum.

      The British have a democratic deficit as big if not bigger than Europe.

      The main parties there all lie in the manifestos or omit their true plans for the country. The one we have now for example omitted their devotion to Gay marriage as a front runner above and beyond their fiscal intentions. They did not mention the deliberate starvation of the poor regardless of the disability to work and the jobless market they keep trying to pretend doesn’t exist.

      they continue to deny the genocide of the British people is taking place and claim it is a ‘marvelous’ solution to the problem of the sick, disabled and elderly. They lie indiscriminately about the benefits of being a united Europe as they cling to a bankrupt and evil federation called the USA, which created the fical bankruptcy we are all faced with. They deny there is a solution other than impoverishment of us all. Whilst they feed their rich friends an even larger cut of the pie.

      International Capitalism thriving on usury is the global issue and colossal problem we are faced with. It can be cured overnight if that premise is accepted as fact. The tar baby of credit has ensnared us all and the rich make more money out of us being poor than out of any other class. So, the Capitalist aim is to increase the number of poor as quickly as can be done.

      Change that and you release us all from the slavery you are deliberately creating.


  30. avatar
    Jokera Jokerov

    It should be cut drastically with severe austerity on EU administration and effective cuts in numbers!

  31. avatar
    Lesley Christensen

    Certainly the too generous salaries and pensions must be reduced and unreasonable travel and hotel expenses, it is not acceptable that only the lowest incomes contribute and that we ignore IT abilities to meet online. EU budgets must be totally re-vamped to ensure there is no waste.

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