Size doesn’t matter. Quality should be central to EU budget

(EurActiv, 20 May 2019) An EU budget aligned to the goals of the Paris Agreement, the fulfilment of climate neutrality and the swift decarbonisation of the European economy is a win-win situation for both net payers and recipients to the EU budget, argue Markus Trilling and Raphaël Hanoteaux.

Markus Trilling is a campaigner at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. Raphaël Hanoteaux is from CEE Bankwatch Network, an environmental organisation.

Breaking the deadlock in negotiations over the next EU budget requires European leaders to focus attention ahead of a General Affairs Council on the quality of Member States spending.

Money is the crux of the matter, as EU leaders are caught up in the size of the next EU budget for the years 2021-2027. Those countries that contribute more money to the EU budget than they receive – like Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – are threatening to withhold their contributions to the collective 1.28 trillion euros pot proposed by the European Commission last year.

Those Member States that receive more than they put in – primarily from central and eastern Europe – insist on their treaty rights to continued levels of financial support from the EU purse. At the same time, these net-payers demand more spending on climate action across the bloc, while most net-recipients argue for the opposite.

The divide between the frugal net-payers and the net-recipients has grown after a year of negotiations, sidelining talks over the quality and impact of EU funds spending. Instead of size being the sticking point though, the EU budget should be seen as the most suitable financial instrument to translate Europe’s climate commitments into real world action.

The science is clear. EU economies need to become climate neutral much faster in order to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C, and latest by 2050 as proposed by the European Commission. This dramatic shift requires unprecedented financial support that the EU budget can deliver.

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EurActiv, 20 May 2019: Size doesn’t matter. Quality should be central to EU budget