Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Weariness Foretold: The EU Budget Summit

Weariness Foretold: The EU Budget Summit

by Binoy Kampmark
November 23, 2012

There were always going to be disagreements about next year’s EU budget, which started in the evening instead of a sensible morning hour, and occupied officials into the early morning. Various MEPs pitched for an increase in spending for this year (some 7.3 billion pounds) and the next. The European Parliament has been considering restoring some 6.5 billion pounds worth of funding slashed by governments from next years’ budget. The austerity battles continue to remain running affairs. Eight hours of negotiations only ended out in walkouts, suggesting that the summit to agree to the EU’s funding plans for 2014-2020 might be stalled.

The EU Commission’s claim is that an increased amount is necessary to pay the bills. New Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem found that claim barely believable. “I’d question that very much. The Commission has to re-prioritise, that’s just the way it is. Budgetary discipline is not just for the member states.”

The British are being characteristically cantankerous. When in doubt, cut, slash and burn. To be fair, the system of funding in the EU is such that increased contributions will be required from contributor economies if the desired amounts are to be met. Each state has its own domestic program to implement, austere or otherwise. That, at the end of the day, is a problem the EU has yet to resolve.

The rhetoric from Prime Minister David Cameron has been savage. He has threatened using the veto power with tedious regularity, though the move would be diplomatically foolish, given that the member states are not necessarily going to reach agreement anyway – for now. Cameron has persisted in following the line that funding should not be increased above the level of inflation. He has better things to do – namely, cutting domestic expenditure and scorching Britannia.

That doesn’t stop some observers of the British scene wondering if the “Churchillian” spirit in Cameron might recoil from the corner and make a foolhardy appearance – 1 resolutely against 26. “Perhaps because the Churchillian idea of Britain against the rest is so enticing and so much part of our national identity, there’s a tendency to see the budget talks as David Cameron battling a monolithic bloc called ‘Europe’ which wants our money” (Daily Telegraph, Nov 21).

The German position is similar to that of Britain’s, though Cameron’s feistiness has irked Angela Merkel. Bonn has every reason to be concerned by adding more than it needs to, seeing as it is the largest net contributor to the EU coffers. France’s François Hollande was more compromising, despite being at ideological loggerheads with Merkel and Cameron. “I am sure that with Germany, we are going to be – as always – a motor to allow this compromise” (EU Observer, Nov 23).

Others prefer a more balance appraisal about the EU budget. Indeed, as the nine countries or so that are net contributors forge the lines of preventing an increase, others are worried that various programs will simply cease or fail to be effective. Farm subsidies, always a part of common agricultural policy, is a sticking point, not to mention infrastructure projects in more depressed regions of the EU. Whether it is a matter of axing programs or simply not allowing for their increase, the results will be the same.

For Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, relaxation was the order of the day –“there is no drama if there’s no agreement tonight.” Then, his list of concerns: “Our main concerns are agriculture, the regions, ultra-peripheral regions, such as Ceuta, Melilla. If the EU budget goes down, then Spain will have to contribute less. But it is premature to talk about numbers now” (Telegraph, Nov 22). In future, it might well be worthwhile picking a more civilised hour to talk these matters through. Precisely because of their brutal scheduling, writes The Guardian (Nov 22), “these get-togethers are enveloped by an air of weariness foretold. The prospects for a game changer look remote.”

*************

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Syed Atiq ul Hassan: Eye-Opener For Islamic Community

An event of siege, terror and killing carried out by Haron Monis in the heart of Sydney business district has been an eye-opener for the Islamic Community in Australia. Haron was shot down before he killed two innocent people, a lawyer and a manager ... More>>

Jonathan Cook: US Feels The Heat On Palestine Vote At UN

The floodgates have begun to open across Europe on recognition of Palestinian statehood. On 12 December the Portuguese parliament became the latest European legislature to call on its government to back statehood, joining Sweden, Britain, Ireland, France ... More>>

ALSO:


Fightback: MANA Movement Regroups, Call For Mana Wahine Policy

In the wake of this years’ electoral defeat, the MANA Movement is regrouping. On November 29th, Fightback members attended a Members’ Hui in Tāmaki/Auckland, with around 70 attending from around the country. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: The Mockingjay Of Palestine: “If We Burn, You Burn With Us”

Raed Mu’anis was my best friend. The small scar on top of his left eyebrow was my doing at the age of five. I urged him to quit hanging on a rope where my mother was drying our laundry. He wouldn’t listen, so I threw a rock at him. More>>

ALSO:

Don Franks: Future Of Work Commission: Labour's Shrewd Move

Lunging boldly towards John Key, shouting 'Cut the crap!' - Andrew Little was great, wasn't he? Labour's new leader spoke for many people fed up with Key's flippant arrogant deceit. Andrew Little nailing the Prime minister on lying about contacting a rightwing ... More>>

Asia-Pacific Journal: MSG Headache, West Papuan Heartache? Indonesia’s Melanesian Foray

Asia and the Pacific--these two geographic, political and cultural regions encompass entire life-worlds, cosmologies and cultures. Yet Indonesia’s recent enthusiastic outreach to Melanesia indicates an attempt to bridge both the constructed and actual ... More>>

Valerie Morse: The Security State: We Should Not Be Surprised, But We Should Be Worried

On the very day that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security released her report into the actions of people the Prime Minister’s office in leaking classified Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) documents to right-wing smearmonger Cameron ... More>>

Ramzy Baroud: PFLP Soul-Searching: Rise And Fall Of Palestine’s Socialists

When news reports alleged that the two cousins behind the Jerusalem synagogue attack on 18 November were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a level of confusion reigned. Why the PFLP? Why now? More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news