Richard North, 03/05/2006  

"I cannot print money, I cannot paint money, I can only propose how best to use it," says EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite, so give me some.

For "use", read spend, and that is exactly what the commissioner is proposing, with her budget for 2007 just out. She wants €126.8 billion for the year from the member states - compared with €112.0 billion this year - in a package she calls "minimalist".

This is the first tranche of the 2007-2013 settlement over which there has been so much grief, and includes money for Romania and Bulgaria, which are expected to join the EU in 2007.

"It's not enough, it's not sufficient and we are not able to pay for all our agreed priorities," laments Grybauskaite, noting that the overall sum is limited to 1.0 percent of the collective GDPs of the member states. Sadly, it means the commission is not able to commit as much money as it would have liked to its "priority areas" such as education, enterprise and innovation.

As before, though, a large part of this EU budget will be spent on agriculture subsidies, although it remains to be seen whether British farmers will actually get any of it.


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