This year, the European Commission and Parliament, alongside governments of member states, are meant to decide the shape of the next one trillion EU Budget to be used between 2014-2020. The main debate, at the moment, is between net contributors asking to decrease the overall size of the budget — it’s austerity times, we need to cut down on public spending, be frugal, in order to restore growth, so the argument goes — and net beneficiaries who want it kept at one trillion.
The fact that this debate has evolved into an all-out war (at least, by Brussels standards) shows that quite many miss an obvious reality: well spent public funds create public good and stimulate the economy at the same time. The last EU Budget proves it. Even though there was a lot of bad spending, many good projects, bringing environmental, social and economic benefits, were developed across the EU with budget funds, many of them regionally administered.
The video here - and an associated map of good projects - produced by CEE Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF, illustrate the potential of a well-designed European budget. In the development of the next European Budget, decision makers must make sure that such projects are prioritised and bad spending is reduced to a minimum.