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Friday, November 13, 2009

The EU's budget is unmanageable

On EUobserver today, Open Europe spells out in some more detail what we consider to be wrong with the EU's budget and how it should be reformed. The piece is a response to Commissioner Siim Kallas' article on the same site a few days ago. We argue,
The fundamental problem of waste and mismanagement involving EU money lies primarily with the budget itself...Mismanagement and waste in the EU budget are two sides of the same coin. They both stem from the size, complexity and irrational nature of the EU budget. Both receive their thrust from the blurred line between spending and accountability, owing to the set-up of the EU's budget programmes. And both can be radically reduced by simplifying the budget, cutting down on the spending and by repatriating a large chunk of regional spending and the CAP to member states.
As we argue in the piece, for a start, reform of the EU budget should involve:
fully repatriating regional policy to the member states except those with a GDP of less than 90% the EU average (which would target the funds on the poorer member states where the money actually can have a real impact); repatriating all parts of the rural development programme which are not related to promoting the environment (as the environment is inherently a cross-border issue); and establishing a better link between performance and receipt of subsidies.
We also pick up on Commissioner Kallas' insight that: "One cannot reasonably expect an EU official from an office in the Commission's headquarters in Brussels to know what best fits the needs of a small town in the West Midlands - this is for the local authorities to say."

We fully agree. So why then are regional spending and rural development a matter for Brussels in the first place?

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