Picture credit: Santiago Urquijo/Getty
Artillery Row

Financial strain in the EU

Commission’s absurd budget proposal raises eyebrows

Merely two years into the EU’s 7-year budget the European Commission has raised eyebrows by requesting an additional 98.9 billion euros from EU Member States. Citing depleted financial resources due to the war in Ukraine, migration crises, and unforeseen shifts in the financial markets, Brussels seeks increased contributions from Member States to address the needs of the Union. This request comes as a surprise as it exposes a lack of budget management by the Commission and raises significant concerns. Given the financial difficulties faced by European citizens, the request for nearly 100 billion euros must be handled with the utmost responsibility.

However, the Commission’s current proposal is seen as unserious

However, the Commission’s current proposal is seen as unserious and lacking in preparation, further diminishing the already low trust of Member States in the European Commission. This is not the first time that Brussels has faced challenges. In 2015, during the migration crisis, Member States were left unsupported in protecting the EU’s external borders. The COVID pandemic also witnessed notable delays in the EU’s vaccine procurement, while doubts remain about the Commission’s agreements with vaccine producers. These recurring incidents give rise to concerns about the Commission’s capacity to effectively address crucial issues essential to the future of the European Union. The current proposal appears to follow a similar pattern, exposing four key factors that underline the need for a thorough examination.

Firstly, Brussels is requesting an additional 50 billion euros for Ukraine without offering a clear report on the previously allocated 70 billion euros. This raises the question of why they believe that 50 billion euros will be enough when the previous 70 billion euros fell short over the past two years. It is also unclear why the focus should be on reconstructing Ukraine after the war without a concrete plan, particularly while the war is still ongoing.

Secondly, Brussels is seeking an additional 18.9 billion euros from Member States to support the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery plan, justifying the need for these funds by citing higher interest rates. Member States had initially agreed to collectively borrow money for this plan relying on Brussels’ assurance that the EU could secure loans at a lower cost from the market. Moreover, numerous Member States faced restrictions and could only access a limited portion of the funds available. Notably, Hungary and Poland, for political reasons, have not received any financial assistance at all. It is absurd to expect citizens to contribute more to a plan for which they have already made payments but have not benefited from.

Thirdly, the Commission’s request for 15 billion euros to address the migration crisis involves the implementation of a new Migration Pact, showcasing yet another attempt to impose a uniform migration and asylum policy on Europe without unanimous support from Member States. Rather than emphasizing border protection, the proposed pact introduces a mandatory relocation system and imposes a financial penalty of €20,000 per migrant for countries refusing to comply, demonstrating the EU’s willingness to bypass Member States under the disguise of “solidarity”. It is dismissive to disregard countries such as Hungary, which has been struggling with migration pressure on the forefront for almost a decade and investing close to 2 billion euros in border protection, or Poland, which has hosted millions of Ukrainian refugees, while subsequently lecturing them on the idea of solidarity. Instead of recreating the low-trust atmosphere of 2015, it is crucial for the European Commission to foster transparent negotiations and respect unanimous decision-making processes when dealing with issues that profoundly shape the future of Europe.

Lastly, the Commission’s request for nearly 2 billion euros to address its bureaucratic needs seems out of touch, especially considering its underwhelming performance thus far. This request comes at a time when citizens across the continent are already facing financial hardships due to rising inflation caused by the ongoing war and Brussels’ sanctions policy, which makes the proposal even more arrogant and detached from reality.

In its current state, the European Commission has departed from its role as the guardian of the treaties and a proponent of European unity. Instead, it runs the risk of deepening internal divisions, and becoming a catalyst for disintegration. To remedy this, the Commission must reclaim its original purpose as a responsible mediator between Member States. It should reestablish itself as a trusted executive, offering well-founded, rational, and reasonable proposals that foster unity and effectively address the pressing issues at hand. It is only through these measures that the Commission can regain its credibility and truly contribute to forging a stronger and more prosperous European Union.

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