Cuts to EU budget will add to 'calamity' of austerity
by Jürgen Klute
It is easy for national finance ministers to propose cuts to the EU's draft budget framework – but behind the raw figures are students, regions and businesses that need funding, writes MEP
Negotiations on the European Union's next seven-year budget framework starting in 2014 remain deadlocked. This is despite the fact that a number of EU funding programmes are on the brink of insolvency. Already this year's EU budget is running out of cash in the areas of space, information technology and security research, growth and employment in the form of the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund, the Erasmus education scheme, health, humanitarian aid and food aid.
So how should the EU deal with serious budget cuts in the next Multiannual Financial Framework? The MFF 2014-2020 is supposed to fix ceilings for the annual EU budget commitments and appropriations for every policy heading. Member states argue that austerity measures alone can lead the EU out of the financial and economic crisis. But the opposite is true. Austerity policies prevent the economy from returning to growth. Austerity creates a vicious spiral of recession and an increase in debt that in turn will lead Greece, Portugal, Spain and other EU member states to further calamity.
The EU budget could, however, help to lead European economies back to recovery. It could support citizens and be based on democracy, equality, freedom and solidarity. But this cannot be achieved if the EU Council pursues its cuts throughout all budget lines. The suggestion by the council, for example, to relate regional policy with the macroeconomic performance – so-called macroeconomic conditionality – of a member state is unacceptable. Why should a region be punished for the failure of its government at national level to comply with procedures related to economic governance? On this issue the European Parliament fortunately positions itself far from the council.
In other respects, it is regrettable that the parliament lacks the ambition to implement an EU-wide financial transaction tax. This could partly allocate to the EU budget as a genuine own resource as is foreseen in the EU treaty, thus reducing the national contributions of member states and stopping the quarrelling between net contributors and net receivers. Furthermore, introducing the FTT would finally force the financial sector, which is responsible for the current crisis, to contribute to increase growth and eradicate poverty in Europe.
It is easy for finance ministers meeting in Brussels to cut expenses in a draft budget. But we should not forget that behind those figures are thousands of students, researchers, towns, regions, non-governmental organisations, small and medium enterprises who rely on these EU funds – even more so in times of crisis like today. And we should keep in mind that every euro spent in the EU budget flows back to citizens and with that to member states.
Jürgen Klute MEP sits with the European United Left-Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament
Every Euro does not flow back to its citizens. If that was the case, then each country could dish out its own cash without incurring the fraud and subtractions necessary to maintain the fantastic packages these MEPs are on. The EU is a fraud on Europe and sovereign countries would do better to keep their own currencies, set their own fiscal targets and interest rates. The above guy does not speak for anyone I know. By the way, the Erasmus project is a vanity project and just a jolly for students. Get real we want to pay no subscriptions to your corrupt club.
David Langley - Manchester, England, UKIP