Michaele Schreyer, the Budget Kommissar, as my colleague named her, came up with an interesting analysis when arguing that there should be major changes in the way the EU budget is calculated (i.e. the British rebate should be scrapped):
Mmm yes. What are those shared aims, one would like to know. Apart from existing and integrating ever further and imposing ever more regulations there do not seem to be all that many aims, shared or otherwise.
The European Union has shared aims; it is a community of solidarity, there will therefore always be net beneficiaries and net contributors to the EU budget, who will vary depending on the evolving priorities of the EU. Excessive budgetary imbalances provoke damaging and unnecessary debates, which this proposal will help resolve, by ensuring that negative net balances decrease, that they are better spread among net contributors and that those who [do] not benefit from the mechanism are not unduly burdened by its financing.
The rest of it has that sort of warm feeling that so many of the eurocrat and europhile pronouncements do. All about contributors co-operating and redistributing funds; benefits and burdens being equally shared out by the wise Commission; and everything absolutely hunky-dory.
There is just one problem. This is taxpayers’ money the Kommissar is talking about and she seems to be unaware that its spending should be done in such a way that they know. In other words, it is not the all-wise, all-just Commission’s views we are interested in but a clear line of responsibility and accountability. Ms Schreyer and her colleaues do not seem to think in those terms.