Brussels has urged EU members to keep the wind in their sails, calling for a six point two billion euro increase in the bloc’s common budget for next year.
General austerity aside, the European Commission justified this saying that projects under way across Europe would otherwise stop.
The top budget official stressed the courage many countries are already showing.
“Twenty-three national budgets of Europe are growing in 2011. Only four are reducing — four exceptions to the growing budget at the national level. Despite the climate of austerity, we have to grow, and we have to save whatever can be saved, and we have to demonstrate, above all, self-restraint in administration.”
Five of the most powerful contributors warned last December that they want the European budget frozen until 2020, and Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, France and Finland pay for more than half of it. They say the EU as a whole must stabilise spending in line with national governments.
Already 40 percent of the EU budget goes for agriculture, and that is coming up for renegotiation in June.
Brussels says its proposed almost five percent 2012 increase is needed to help poor regions and support research.
A diplomat from one of the richer states suggested it was a bad joke.