SP presents proposals for smaller EU budget

31 March 2011

SP presents proposals for smaller EU budget

The EU will shortly adopt a new multi-annual budget for the period 2014-2020. Most Members of the European Parliament want to either leave things much as they are, or even argue for a sizeable increase in the budget over the next few years. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong is an exception, as he explains: ‘There is now an historic chance for the EU to develop an improved budget and I have today presented a large number of proposals to achieve this. The SP wants to see a smaller EU budget and cuts in unnecessary bureaucracy and frivolous pet projects, an end to the practice of the member states paying out money to Brussels only to have some of it returned in the form of grants, and less extravagant salaries for European officials.’

The SP wants to see the number of the EU’s existing funds reduced and the rules governing subsidies simplified. In the SP’s view, the EU must set priorities for the payment of such subsidies. For example, a new EU fund for innovation will manage all innovation projects. Small businesses are amongst those who find it difficult to find a path through the forest of subsidy rules. The whole thing could be simpler. “A city such as Eindhoven doesn’t want to wait for an EU subsidy to build a cycle path, but is interested in taking part in cross-border innovation projects, so why doesn’t the EU direct its attention only to such matters?” says De Jong. In addition, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), should, the SP argues, be directed only at the very poorest member states. As things stand, member states pay money in, only to see a portion of it returned in grants. An end must be put to this.

A cheaper EU
There is, according to De Jong, plenty of room for more savings. “Not spending money on prestige projects such as the satellite system Galileo, which gobbles up money, would mean that the Netherlands’ financial contribution could be greatly reduced.” The SP also wants to see the extravagant salaries paid to EU officials, along with the wide range of luxurious extras provided by the EU institutions, subject to restraint. “It’s surely wrong for an official who is doing the same kind of work as a civil servant in the Netherlands to be paid twice as much,” says De Jong. Lastly he points to the European Agencies, which often have budgets running into millions of euros and which are divided up between the member states after a lot of horse-trading, noting that no check is ever made on their effectiveness. Later this year the SP will publish a study of these agencies conducted by a Dutch university, which will, amongst other things, shed light on the cost of these institutions.

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