A bigger budget for a smaller, more ambitious EU

The European Commission’s proposal for a roughly €1.279 trillion spending plan for 2021 to 2027 was unveiled in the European Parliament by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger last Wednesday.

Among highlights of the proposal are sharp increases in spending on border defences against illegal immigration as well as on foreign aid, plus more investment in common EU defence schemes, research and technology and on helping eurozone governments in difficulty.

“With today’s proposal, we have put forward a pragmatic plan for how to do more with less,” Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament in launching the proposal to spend about 10 percent more in 2021-27 as a share of output.

The increase, the Commission argues, will be less than a daily cup of coffee for 440 million Europeans and is cheap at the price, as (directly elected) national governments typically tax and spend 40 times as much.

The proposal asks member states to let Brussels raise new money directly from new taxes on plastics — designed also to help the environment — and on big global tech firms. But it will also require governments in the wealthier west to chip in more as Britain stops paying its annual 13 billion euros or so.

For the wealthier northerners, most vocally the Dutch, Brussels is stretching the post-Brexit chequebook too far. The Eastern Europeans — the Hungarians and Poles above all — won’t take kindly to the barely concealed plans to punish them over alleged backsliding on democracy.

The southerners will like the extra funding for border control to handle the migration crisis.

Big Pharma will like increased spending on research. Farmers won’t be happy to see their subsidies go down.

“The new budget framework … will decide the future of our Europe of 27 and will determine our legacy to forthcoming generations,” Juncker said. “The level of the budget is not without consequence. It is directly linked to our ambitions.”

Sources: Politico, Europa.eu