06 May 2008

A new budget for the European Union?

Alfonso Iozzo / Stefano Micossi / Maria Teresa Salvemini

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The present budget of the European Union has long ceased to represent European policy priorities; it is the result of decisions taken decades ago and subsequent incremental adjustments decided under the pressure of external events or for political expediency. Its increasing detachment from emerging needs and policy priorities undermines support for the Union among public opinion. This Policy Brief considers possible changes in the budget structure that would provide a separate and transparent account of its main activities. It also addresses the issue of net balances, the possible role of a European tax and European bonds, and some changes in decision-making procedures. The main proposal is that the European budget could be reorganised in a tripartite form, with separate Chapters for its redistributive tasks, the production of European public goods and the use of financial resources raised in capital markets for large projects of European interest. These changes, and some related adaptations of decision-making procedures, should make it possible for the European budget to become the subject of partisan political debates in the public arena on the occasion of European elections.