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

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Crisis In Greece

Greece, as the cradle of democracy, is getting no brownie points for actually practicing it. The decision by the Greek government to go back to the people for a mandate for the bailout terms being proposed by the Eurozone seems entirely appropriate. More>>

ALSO:

Stories Of Scoop: Alastair Thompson, Scoop Media & The Cost Of Free Journalism

How does a news organization that cares about authentic journalism and has a mission to effect “positive change” continue to operate in these times of derivative storytelling when advertising dollars are no longer determined by the quality of editorial content? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Pope’s Encyclical On Climate Change

The spread of market mechanisms into every facet of life – as health, education and the environment get treated as mere commodities – has seen economic efficiency worshipped in its own right as a totem, and as a substitute for morality. The Laudato Si encyclical issued today by Pope Francis on climate change and the environment goes some away to restoring a sane balance. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Turns Sixteen: How Scoop's “Ethical Paywall” Model Has Changed Everything

As of this month, a broad range of professional organisations, including constitutional institutions, government agencies & departments, NGOs, Unions, CRIs, law firms, PR agencies, accountancy firms, media organisations, libraries and businesses - all of which make regular use of Scoop in their daily work and for professional research - have joined Scoop’s new “Ethical Paywall” copyright licensing scheme. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Sepp Blatter Resignation

Any initial elation at Sepp Blatter’s resignation as the overlord of FIFA will be tempered by his declared intention to stay on until at least December and possibly March 2016, to enable his successor to be elected. Has FIFA got no existing succession plan that could kick in before this? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The FIFA Scandal, And Similar Dirty Deal

With the US now investigating FIFA’s racketeering and money-laundering activities and the Swiss also looking at the bribes that went into the choice of Russia and Qatar as upcoming FIFA venues, the capos at FIFA are taking the fall for the boss of all bosses, Sepp Blatter - who has somehow been blissfully unaware of the dirty payoffs and extortion rackets conducted on his watch ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news