Looking with Argus-eyes to EU budgets

The EU is more aware now than ever before of the importance of listening to, and properly representing the demands, hopes and aspirations of its citizens, who still have not the trust in the institution which it should get. Many myths are still going on by the EU citizens.

Official emblem of the EESC

Official emblem of the EESC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The EESC has the unique ability to build consensus between social and economic interests Europe-wide and to provide a two-way flow of information between Brussels and “back home”. This makes the EESC well placed to be the driving force of the citizens’ agenda at the heart of Europe – le moteur citoyen. But this can’t be done without engaging the EESC at every level, political and operational, members and staff alike, acting as ambassadors not just for the EESC but for the EU as a whole at
this critical time in the history of the European project.

To do this, EESC communication activities must be a top priority in the reform process which is currently under way. Every activity should be aimed at strengthening the Committee’s influence on EU decision-makers in Brussels in order to increase the impact of the EESC as a leading voice of organised civil society “back home” and a platform of participatory democracy at EU level.

The opportunities for the EESC to enhance its reputation, visibility and influence through well-directed, well-coordinated and well-planned communication activities are considerable.

When the people look at the amount of money the EU needs they often wonder if this is really necessary. The EU is to be allowed commitments of no more than EUR 960 billion over the next seven years, and real expenditure of just EUR 908 billion.
Never has so little – in economic output terms – been spent on Europe.

Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom pay the EU a reduced rate of VAT income. Austria and Denmark enjoy a fixed rebate.

Other special arrangements apply from one end of Europe to the other.

This is why we also support the idea of a new system for financing the EU budget based on own resources.

To square the accounts, cuts are being made to resources such as the Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which helps workers who have lost their job as a result of global structural changes.

The exhausting tussle between the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament has resulted in a lowest common denominator compromise that undermines the ambitious challenges for the European Union over the next
seven years. Like the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions, the EESC had maintained that the scale of the challenges facing the EU “[made] it not only desirable but also necessary to increase the size of the EU budget so as to revitalise economic growth and employment”.

At this delicate stage (economically, socially and politically), the EESC had asked all the European institutions to send a strong, clear message to the Union’s citizens that in times of crisis we needed more Europe, not less.
And it had issued the call responsibly, reiterating how important it was that EU expenditure satisfy correct standards of efficiency and efficacy and so avoid waste.

EU citizens look with an Argus-eye to the huge budgets which are constantly
rising and are used, according to many, to support inefficient farms.

European flag outside the Commission

European flag outside the Commission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There  are mayny myths and exaggerations floating around concerning the Union’s
Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

Contrary to popular belief, the EU budget is not dictated by Eurocrats.
The European Commission puts forward an initial proposal, but then negotiations on the MFF take place between democratically-elected politicians in the European Parliament and the Council, according to clear and transparent procedures. Nothing
is agreed without the consent of both sides. All EU citizens can access the related documentation and follow the discussions online.

In 2010, each citizen paid only 67 cents on average per day to finance the annual budget, which is  “hardly a large expense given the huge benefits that the EU brings to citizens”, according to the Commission.

And despite reports, the MFF is not expanding out of control.
Between 2000 and 2010, national budgets in the EU increased by 62% while the EU budget rose by just 37% over the same period. The next budget represents only around 1% of EU Gross Domestic Product, yet produces concrete results where financing at EU level generates a better return on investment.

Sometimes we do have the impression that money is frittered away on extravagant EU staff salaries, people who are not really physically nor mentally there, or
mountains of surplus farm produce.

More than 94% of the budget goes back to the Member States, helping citizens, supporting growth and jobs, and tackling cross-border crime and other challenges affecting us all.

We as citizens may look forward to the next financial period, where would seriously been looked at how to continue and safeguard the vital EU programmes. Parliament
demanded that extra funding be “frontloaded” in 2014 and 2015 for youth employment, the Erasmus programme (especially apprenticeships), research and innovation and SMEs.

The Commission has never floated the idea of a “direct EU tax” to pay for the MFF. Member States remain in control of raising taxes. The Commission is not becoming our taxman, stresses the executive on a webpage it has created to debunk the many myths regarding the budget.

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  • EU auditor says bad budget reporting increases (seattlepi.com)
    The European Union‘s auditor said Tuesday that bad budget reporting has increased further, resulting in several billions of euros in irregular spending of EU funds by the 27 member states and the executive Commission.Each member of the EU contributes about 1 percent of its gross domestic product to the EU budget, which is then invested across Europe on various projects to bolster the economy.
  • UK opposes extra EU budget funds (bbc.co.uk)
    The UK was outvoted on the extra 7.3bn for this year’s EU budget – so the UK will have to pay about 875m euros more.If the same happens over the 3.9bn then the UK will have to pay another 470m.

    The Commission says bills rolled over from 2012 have to be paid – mostly for EU projects in struggling regions.

    “When citizens across Europe are seeing their family budgets under pressure, it is unjustifiable that the European budget should be going up in this way,” a UK Treasury spokesperson told BBC News.

  • The “Flexibility Instrument” of the EU budget (libraryeuroparl.wordpress.com)
    If multi-year financial planning includes strict expenditure limits, it can be difficult to deal with unforeseen events or new priorities. In case of need, the EU can resort to its Flexibility Instrument (FI), which has, up to now, been used mainly for external action and competitiveness policies. The maximum annual budget of the FI is expected to increase in the 2014-20 financial programming period, which should also see a growing number of flexibility tools for the EU.
  • EU budget cut ‘not as good as it looks’ top peer warns (express.co.uk)
    David Cameron’s bitter fight to secure a cut in the European Union’s long-term budget is “not as good as it looks” because too many other concessions have been made, peers warned today.
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    The 27 EU nations have been trying since last autumn to cobble together a budget for the years 2014-2020 at a time when many of them are mired in recession.The budget sets what the EU can spend on everything from infrastructure, farming to development aid and employment measures.
  • EU execs back OK for genetically modified maize (nzherald.co.nz)
    The European Union’s executive Commission is backing plans to cultivate a genetically modified maize despite the objections of environmental groups which considers it dangerous.Wednesday’s approval now sends the plans to approve Maize 1507 to the EU’s 28 member nations for consideration and could lead to a decision on the issue as soon as next month. EU member states have sharply diverging views on the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms commonly known as GMOs.
  • EU expects weak recovery to leave joblessness high (news.yahoo.com)
    Europe’s economy will continue to recover through next year, but at a subdued pace that will leave unemployment near record highs, the European Commission said Tuesday.The Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said rising business confidence and strengthening domestic demand are expected to underpin the recovery as governments also slow the pace of austerity measures such as spending cuts and tax increases.”There are increasing signs that the European economy has reached a turning point,” said the EU’s Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn.

    Growth, however, is likely to remain too weak to generate many new jobs.

  • More of EU budget misspent in 2012 (bbc.co.uk)
    The highest rate of misspending was in rural development and the environment, at 7.9%. Errors in “cohesion” spending for struggling regions totalled 6.8%.
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    The EU’s total budget spending for 2012 was 138.6bn euros, of which about 80% was jointly managed by the European Commission and authorities in the member states.The overall error rate rose to 4.8%, from 3.9% in 2011. The auditors said more than half of the errors could have been prevented by national authorities.

    Commenting on the findings, a European Court of Auditors official told BBC News: “Our audit of the EU budget is is not directly comparable to audits done by other organisations.

    “We produce an annual estimated error rate on the regularity of financial operations, which is not the case for most national governments.”

    The auditors found many errors in underlying transactions, but despite that, “since 2007 we have signed off on the accounts – they represent materially and fairly the state of income and expenditure of the EU”, he said.

  • Slow EU Recovery Leaves Unemployment High (theepochtimes.com)
    The Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said rising business confidence and strengthening domestic demand are expected to underpin the recovery as governments also slow the pace of austerity measures such as spending cuts and tax increases.“There are increasing signs that the European economy has reached a turning point,” said the EU’s Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn.

    Growth, however, is likely to remain too weak to generate many new jobs.

    The European Union’s economy is expected to grow 0.5 percent over the second half of the year, leaving it flat for the whole year, and expand 1.4 percent in 2014, according to the Commission’s fall forecast. Its last predictions, issued in May, had expected a drop of 0.1 percent in 2013.

    The 17-country eurozone is forecast to continue its recovery from recession, from which it emerged in the second quarter. However, over 2013 as a whole, the eurozone is still expected to record a decline of 0.4 percent. For next year, the Commission is penciling in 1.1 percent growth, downward marginally from its previous forecast of 1.2 percent.

  • Making the EU more attractive to foreign students and researchers (fidest.wordpress.com)
    The EU would offer better working and living conditions for non-EU students, researchers, trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs, as a way to boost member states’ competitiveness, thanks to draft rules amended by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday.
  • Hitting EU green energy goals ‘would save billions, boost GDP’ (reuters.com)
    Hitting energy and environment targets for 2030 under discussion in the European Commission would save up to 35 billion euros ($47 billion) per year in health costs as air pollution declines, EU sources said.It would also add an estimated 0.5 percent to gross domestic product, due mainly to lower oil and gas imports, they said.
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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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