Monday, February 11, 2013
From what we read from various sources reporting on the debate that took place and the matter that it did, this summit has showed once again, that our heads of states and government have no vision for the future of Europe. "They do not understand the need to provide the EU with sufficient resources to give Europeans a future. All we have is a market made of vetoes, cuts, rebates and long term austerity." (as noted by Pietro De Matteis, co-President of the European Federalist Party, in an official statement).
One EU diplomat complained that Van Rompuy had adopted crude tactics in which he bought off individual member states with "gifts" while cutting EU-wide infrastructure projects such as the Connecting Europe initiative. "Growth has been the victim of the bazaar," the source said. (source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/08/european-union-budget-night-talks).
I find this shameful not from the side of Mr. Van Rompuy, but the very need to bribe some members in order to come into an agreement shows the real state of the "Union." Every state still thinks on a national level and by bribing them, the EU officials only kick the can down the road. Any "solution" under such climate can only be temporary.
The draft budget 2013 freezes future expenditure: the increase of commitments (i.e. tomorrow’s payments) is at the level of inflation (2%). It also freezes the Commission’s administrative budget at well below inflation level, while cutting its staff by 1%, the first step towards the goal of a 5% reduction of staff in 5 years.
At the same time, it proposes a 6.8% increase in the level of payments.
This contributes directly to growth and jobs in Europe. The EU budget must meet its contractual obligations of current and previous years vis-à-vis the Member States and other recipients.
€62,5 billion in payments are devoted to job friendly growth in Europe. A particular effort has been made towards the Research framework Programs (€9,0 billion, 28,1% increase on 2012), the Competitiveness and Innovation Program (€546,4 million, 47,8 % increase), structural and cohesion funds (€49bn, 11,7 % increase), life long learning (€1,2 billion, 15,8 % increase). (source: http://www.talktoeu.ie/?p=2778)
Personally I am disappointed that Agriculture is still taking up almost one third of the EU's expenditure. A single sector of Europe's economy occupies one third of its budget. Is that wise? It is encouraging though that more funds will be directed towards innovation and education, thought not enough if you ask me. And of course it remains to be seen how many states will actually fully implement these decisions and how.
Will these funds be able to get Europe not just out of the current crisis, but prevent any future similar crisis from happening and help stabilizing and harmonizing Europe's economy? I think not. It looks to me that this is not in our leaders' agenda. All they seem to want is to deal with the current crisis quickly and do not disturb or alter the current status quo of the continent.
I understand that they need to keep the balances between the interests of their country, the lobbies in the country who support them, the European interests and the lobbies that work on a continental level. But if they want to be seen as the hero of the day and remain in Europe's history, they should be bolder and agree on a budget that will be decisive.
Instead they seem to care in keeping the critics back home happy and safeguard theirs and their party's prominence in national politics. Sadly, European leaders still think "nationally." How can we ever achieve an agreement on a budget or any solution for Europe in this mind-frame?
So for the next 10 years we can expect no real change in Europe, apart from a soothing effect on the crisis; until the next one of course. European leaders do not think for the long term. Change and any progress in our continent happen with a tortoise pace, while changes in the world happen with a hare's.
Unless European leaders can outsmart the global changes with the patience and confidence of a tortoise, Europe's future is uncertain. Hopefully our generation will be able to witness the results of their decisions and judge them accordingly.