The EU Commission wants the new EU budget to be passed rapidly after the European elections in May. It is seeking to have the budget for the years 2021 to 2027 approved by the European Parliament and the Council before the end of 2019. But we fear that little use is being made of the opportunity to modernize the budget and that approval will take longer than hoped – not least because of the many bones of contention and the increasing euro-scepticism in some countries. EU citizens will suffer as a result: the budget holds scant prospects of innovations in store for them, but it will bring heavier burdens.
The budget is supposed to become more modern and meet the major political challenges of the next few years. In addition, larger investments are planned in sectors that are important for the future. However, the EU is looking very lethargic in its modernisation process – implementation of the Commission’s proposal for a new weighting of expenditure areas is hesitant. This is problematic as in this way the EU risks tackling key areas too late and with little efficacy, thus ultimately jeopardizing its competitiveness.
The reasons for this unfortunate situation are to be found in the different interests of the member states: none of the members is able or willing to show restraint as regards the development funds and rebates that are granted. In some areas expenditure can only be reduced gradually as, for example, in the agricultural sector it is an existential component of the business model. Politically, therefore, increased expenditure seems to be the only way. The result of this is that – despite the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the EU – the expenditure earmarked in the draft budget is not lower, but higher. This is to be financed mainly from additional contributions.