Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Budget for Europe: getting your excuses ready...

Yesterday, I looked at the vista which rolls out before European liberals. Today, let's look at some of the justifications for expenditure...

  • The EU has simultaneously enlarged to 12 new member states and received new competences;
  • Between 2000 and 2010, member state budgets increased by 62%, compared to the EU budget that increased by 37% over the same period;
  • There have been liberal achievements in reforming EU agricultural policy, including; a reduction in CAP funding from a high of almost 70% of the EU budget in 1985; the decoupling of direct support for farmers through removing the link between payments and the production of a specific product; ensuring farmers have greater consideration for environmental, animal welfare and food quality standards by making financial aid dependent on respecting these issues; and putting further emphasis on a reorientation from direct aid to a more comprehensive approach to rural development that will strengthen initiatives in the areas of climate change, renewable energy, water management, biodiversity, and innovation. 
Hmmm... Yes, the EU is bigger, but is it really fair to compare the budgets of member states, with social welfare responsibilities and bank bailouts to finance, with the European Union? I'm not so sure, to be honest. And whilst reducing the proportion of the EU budget spent on CAP funding from 70% to 39% is a good thing, the EU has been given a lot more in the way of competences over that quarter-century.

Considers that: 
  • EU-level projects not only have the potential to create long-term benefits for the Union as a whole, but can save individual member states money through better coordination across all EU countries, thus avoiding twenty-seven different and costly means of achieving the same ends. 
This is the international equivalent of BOGOF, but it is a fair point. 
  • The budget for 2014-2020 must be viewed as an investment budget. Accordingly, negotiations should centre on priority areas where EU spending can make a difference; 
I couldn't agree more. Spending money on things that will generate a return can only help the European economy and create jobs. Infrastructure spending, anyone?
  • National politicians all too quickly resort to criticising or blaming “Brussels” for unpopular measures taken at the member state level, which heightens a sense of negativity towards the EU and fuels misinformed, anti-EU sentiments; 
If you think that politicians are bad, you haven't met our media yet...
  • EU cohesion policy plays a vital role in creating equality between Europe’s regions, while acting as an incentive for private investment, leading to economic growth and social prosperity; 
  • Trans-national networks are crucial to advancing economic and business and social and cultural ties between regions as well as being a prime example of the benefits that can be derived from EU projects in general and cohesion policy in particular; 
  • As a matter of principle, the level of EU co-financing should reflect the European added value of the different investments made under the cohesion policy and rural development programmes; 
Only local funding for local projects, in other words Europe will be taking a broader, strategic view.
  • The importance of speaking with one voice and coordinating efforts in the field of Foreign Affairs becomes all the more important in a quickly globalising world. Acting collectively, the European Union is a world leading power; 
So, if you have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, with a veto... In theory, I agree. In practice, it's going to be a hard sell in Tunbridge Wells...
  • In times of austerity, important financial gains can also be made through increased pooling of resources in defence spending, which relies on heavy financial investment and top level research; 
The Eurofighter is not something to shout about, and I can't help feeling that this is better left to the private sector. 
  • With a better use of the European Social Fund, there should be no need for a European Globalisation Fund in the next seven year EU budget, and believes that the very idea of such a Globalisation Fund conflicts with the liberal vision of free and fair trade and competition; 
I'm yet to be convinced that having government, at whatever level, attempt to pick winners is likely to be a roaring success.
  • Existing programmes that encourage the mobility of students and educational professionals should be further developed. 
A case of familiarity breeding content, and a thoroughly good thing, if you ask me.

So, nothing too alarming so far, except the bit about pooled defence spending, unless they mean the weapons buying equivalent of Groupon, you know, if twenty of you sign up to buy tanks, you get 61% off. I suspect though, that they don't.

Next time, what European liberals are calling for in terms of spending...

1 comment:

Richard Gadsden said...

I note the careful not-mentioning of agriculture.