EU Budget 2014-2020

, by Osmi Anannya

EU Budget 2014-2020

The 2014-2020 EU budget is presently being negotiated by EU institutions and Member States. Playing a crucial role in the future of developing countries at home and EU foreign relations, one of the most important aspects of interest is the position of EU Member States and their role in the proposal. Seven Member States took the decision to reduce the budget by €100 billion for the EU and for Sweden in particular, by more than €100 billion.

Among the countries in favour of a further decrease in the budget are Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and United Kingdom, and those in favour of the EU’s proposed budget include Belgium, Hungary, Poland and Romania. A common trend in disparities is that most of the nations arguing for a reduction have been the largest patrons of the EU budget, while most of those arguing for the proposals to be put into practice have been major beneficiaries.

The budget forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy and is charted to fund common policies like the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), aid weak regions, markets, promote collaboration, cooperation and large-scale projects in research, innovation and justice, and also work together employing a pan-European approach in issues like climate and demographic change.

Europe 2020 is a ten year plan of action proposed by the European Commission in 2010, following the Lisbon Treaty (2000-2010), which aims to alleviate growth and employment. The European Commission aims to increase European investment in research and development, bringing it to 3 per cent of GDP. The 2020 strategy also highlights the need to increase tertiary education in Europe, to reduce early-school leaving, and to reinforce the perception that culture and media activities are valuable to young children.

By being innovative, the Commission in addition wants to fabricate a new division termed as transition regions which would include all regions with an income per person at a level of 75 per cent to 90 per cent of the average of the 27 countries. Going further in granting fair and equal access to the internal market for all of the countries, the Connecting Europe Facility is also being proposed.

One of the most debated cost-cutting measures has been to slash the administrative costs by reducing staff numbers. The European Commission has addressed this by proposing a 5 per cent reduction in European staff numbers in each institution or service, agency or other body, and grinding to a halt the national public administrative expenditure. Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland and Spain have requested for even further cuts, while Belgium, Italy and Poland have supported the proposal.

An aspect of the budget is also dedicated to the EU Enlargement agenda. The EU supplies nations seeking to become candidates with funding in carrying out the necessary political, economic, constitutional and legislative reforms required of them to become a member of the European Union. Amongst present EU Member States, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Estonia have cited it to be one of their priorities. Enlargement of the European Union in the coming years could see more escalation in political, social and economical divergence and the Cohesion Policy exists to address these prospective issues by getting involved more locally. Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania labelled the policy framework to be prominent.

The portion of the budget earmarked for agriculture is to bolster both the availability and stable price index of food to secure a sufficient reserve of food for people, effective management of natural resources and conservation of the environment. Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia are among the countries who have stated the CAP to be a priority. Meanwhile, there has been a welcoming shift in focus for the section of the budget dedicated to foreign policy as the Commission displayed a growing interest in spreading democracy across the Middle East and increase involvement in Africa.

The foreign policy and aid division make up about 7 per cent of the total EU budget and one of the fundamental recipients of the budget is the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) (2004). The ENP exists to ensure that the enlarged EU and its neighbouring countries continue to coexist harmoniously. The framework covers Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine. Casting aside a proportion of the budget for the ENP framework has been supported by Czech Republic, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal and Romania, with Portugal accentuating their priority to cooperate with the least developed countries like Africa.

The proposed Development Cooperation Instrument, which is to support European cooperation between 46 developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Central Asia, the Middle East and South Africa, has raised concerns over at Spain, however. The country has stated that the mechanism excludes bilateral agreements with 11 countries in Latin America which could lead to a deficit in support for those countries.

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