A budget fit for Europe

CEPS hosted a conference and a workshop on June 9th devoted to exploring the performance, conditionalities and EU value added of the EU budget The conference was led by a panel featuring Lázló Andor, former EU Commissioner, Thomas Westphal, Director General in the German Ministry of Finance, Martina Dalic, Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia and Nichola De Michelis, Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Cretu. The workshop was chaired by MEP Ingebord Grässle, chair of the Budget Control Committee. In opening the debate, CEPS Senior Research Fellow Jorge Núñez Ferrer explained the present strategic requirements and the conditionalities in the EU budget and assessed their performance. Critics of the EU budget generally ignore the strict criteria to which the EU budget is subject. The subsequent discussions in both events focused on whether and what kinds of conditionalities are necessary, revealing strongly divergent views. The budget is already overburdened by controls; thus the issue is about making these controls more relevant and useful, not about adding more. Núñez urged that these questions should be sorted out quickly, as decisions for the budget for 2020 onwards need to be taken quite soon. In addition, he warned that while the obsession with controls and conditionalities continues, we are not addressing the more important questions of the actual function of the EU budget and the kind of European Union we want to build, as is reflected in the growing agglomeration of economic activities in limited geographical areas.