The European Commission has proposed a near seven percent increase in its budget for next year.
EU chiefs insisted the rise was needed to help boost growth across the bloc. But the plans come at a sensitive time, given that Brussels has led calls for governments to slash public spending.
Responding to a question posed by euronews, the EU parliament’s president Martin Schulz, who was speaking in the European Commission and supports the plans, said: “To what extent is it useful to discuss that we must cut a balanced budget? Is it not more meaningful to discuss what we should do with a balanced budget of the European Union, to create growth, exactly in those member states who are suffering an economic crisis.”
The increase is also needed to meet prior budget commitments, the Commission has said. But some MEPs believe the demand, in such austere times, is unacceptable.
“Its complete double standards, hypocrisy of the worst order. ‘Austerity should be applying to everybody else but in Europe our budget is for investment and therefore can’t be cut at all’. That’s nonsense. Everybody knows that there is a lot fat in the European budget that can be saved,” Conservative MEP Martin Callanan complained.
The Commission also faces an uphill task convincing EU governments, with Britain, Germany and France calling for it to scale back its plans.