EU better at investment than member states, claims commissioner
by Dean Carroll
European Union institutions manage investment budgets better than EU member states and achieve greater value for money from public spending at a supranational level than countries do at a state level – Dacian Ciolos has told PublicServiceEurope.com . Defending the European Commission's stance on increasing the EU budget in spite of fierce opposition from some member states – especially Germany, France and the United Kingdom – the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development claimed that most national spending got swallowed up in "administration rather than investment".
Countering the critics who accuse EU institutions of widespread waste and talk of alleged profligate behaviour among officials, Ciolos said: "There are no arguments for reducing the EU budget; we need a strong budget - especially in areas like cohesion and the Common Fisheries policy. Some 95 per cent of the EU budget returns to member states – so a reduction would be a reduction in investment capacity at a time when we are talking about 'more Europe'. Those member states wanting to see a reduction in their contributions will have to accept that if it were to happen, then the money has to come from another source like the financial transaction tax and so on."
The bold stance of suggesting that the EU is better at managing public expenditure than its individual member states is likely to enrage those creditor countries that are calling for significant cuts to the EU budget, having tired of paying for laggard nations to catch up. But some economists do claim that every euro invested by the EU brings about more than two euros of investment from other sources, including the private sector. Speaking at the European People's Party Congress in Romania this week, Committee of the Regions President Ramon Luis Valcarcel Siso claimed that by 2020 every euro spent by the EU would bring about investment of four euros from other sources.
Lobbying for increased cohesion funding, the head of the local and regional authorities grouping said: "Structural funds are indispensable if member states are to get out of the financial crisis. To reduce expenditure would be an enormous mistake, we actually need to step up investment. Confidence, cooperation and solidarity are the values at the heart of the European dream and they must drive us in the future."
President of the EPP group on the Committee of the Regions Michael Schneider reiterated that it would be disastrous to pull the rug from under the weaker EU member states by cutting back cohesion funds. Also calling for "solidarity" to boost economic equality across the continent, he said: "By ironing out the disparities, we will strengthen our global competitive strength. Cohesion policy has been a success story and there must be sufficient money behind it. Cohesion policy is the wrong area to make savings. Cuts there would just store up trouble for the future."
EU enlargement 'part of solution to economic crisis'
Continuing to expand the EU's borders by admitting new countries is part of the solution to the region's economic crisis, Stefan Füle said yesterday – as he urged membership candidates to overcome so-called 'enlargement fatigue'