As Britain takes the axe to its budget, from Strasbourg comes a call to increase EU spending.
Discounting protests by governments putting austerity first, the European Parliament voted for a budget rise of 5.9 percent for next year, to 130 billion euros, roughly the same as the European Commission’s recommendation.
Some MEPs insist governments should back something like an EU-wide tax to fund common programmes.
Centre-right politician Alain Lamassoure says:
“We need a system that’s not worse for the taxpayer, that eases the toll on national budgets and that voters can see works. We need European resources to pay for European policies.”
Building up Europe, many EU legislators and officials say, is based on annual financing plans that run for many years, such as for roads and research development.
They also point out that EU spending supports growth and creates jobs.
Next year will see negotiations start for the EU’s long-term spending plan after 2013.
EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski predicts they will be challenging:
“Given the context, the crisis context, it will be very tough. We can’t afford big losers or big winners. In this very context, we should place the British rebate as well.”
The rebate is money returned to the UK from its contribution to the EU, mainly because its farming sector, being small relative to France and Germany, draws less from EU agricultural funds which they want maintained.
The parliament and governments will now begin work on 2011 compromises.