The European Union may have to prepare for possibly an intense struggle over Europe’s budget for the next fiscal year. Commission and Parliament want more money; member states that are reining in spending object and even propose to spend less on Europe.
Although the EU costs less than 1 percent of the national income of all 27 member states combined, conservative parties throughout Europe, since recently in government, often campaigned on reducing contributions to Brussels. The British especially, who face huge spending cuts, are critical of raising Europe’s budget. Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to voice harsh criticism during the EU summit later this week and can count on support from Mark Rutte, prime minister of the new Dutch government. Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland and Sweden are similarly skeptical of spending more on Europe this year.
While all of Europe braces for spending cuts, the European Commission proposed a budget of €130 billion which is an almost 6 percent increase compared to last year.
Whether the Euroskeptics manage to get their way is far from certain. A majority in the European Parliament appears opposed to austerity and believes that in these times of recession, governments should invest more, not spend less. The seven aforementioned countries opposed to raising the EU’s budget next year are three votes short of a majority in the European Council.