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Santa Claus gets a long wishlist from the EU

26 November 2017

Santa Claus gets a long wishlist from the EU

The European Union's wishlist is long indeed. All in all, it's the member states who will have to play Santa Claus and pay double the amount they currently do. In exchange they'll get a European army, one European minister or several of them, European inspection services and, most importantly, a large number of funds from which they will be able to get some of their money back, as long as they don't buckle under the piles of bureaucratic papers involved. I'm referring to the EU budget, which from 2020 would be doubled, at least if it was up to the chair of the European Parliament, the Italian Antonio Tajani. So we can only hope that when Santa Claus comes calling, he'll fly past Tajani's chimney tops and find better ways to use his money.

It's some years since the SP calculated that the EU budget could be halved,  simply by putting an end to wastefulness. Yet what continues is the bizarre system under which the Netherlands must first transfer money to the EU, after which local and regional authorities have to join the queue for subsidies and loans to finance things which could easily have been paid for directly out of the national budget. This pumping of money back and forth continues still and is not only inefficient, but also makes local and regional authorities dependent on the European Commission. They have now set up their own lobbying offices in Brussels.

Centralisation of its Agencies is another measure which would make the EU not only more transparent, but also a bit less expensive. Mark my words, the Netherlands is going to pay through the nose for the European Medicines Agency, which with a great deal of fanfare Prime Minister Mark Rutte has managed to bring to Amsterdam. The host country must provide all of the necessary services for the Agency: not simply the building, but also schools and kindergartens for employees' children, and much else.

Tajani doesn't want to know about making savings, at least when it comes to the EU. There has already been a great deal of criticism made of the EP chair, principally because he did this without any prior consultation. Now I don’t exclude the possibility that many of my fellow MEPs would be delighted to have such a large budget for the EU. There's still the idea that we can seek a European solution for everything, as we saw with the calls for a new Agency in the wake of Dieselgate. While the member states have been forced for years now to cut spending, clearly different rule apply in Brussels. That goes for Budgetary Affairs Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. He isn't advocating a doubling, but he wants in any case to have more money, despite the UK withdrawal, which ought actually to lead to a slimmed-down budget. In short, time to keep our wits about us and leave Santa Claus to carry on playing himself.

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