It has become a tradition: the European heads of state and of government meet for a first summit in which differences are noted and which then fails. A second meeting usually allows the necessary compromise to be found in order to move ahead. And so it should be with the European Council meeting on February 7-8, which should agree the Union’s 2014-2020 budget after first failing to do so in the autumn of 2012.
But perhaps moving ahead is putting it too strongly. This budget proposal is a relic of the past. Its structure is 20 years old. It represents less than 1 per cent of the Union’s wealth. It is dominated by spending on agriculture and development aid to regions while innovative projects suffer variable adjustments. It is difficult to garner enthusiasm for such an exercise. The French assert that agriculture spending is an investment for the future but their own experience belies this since their agro-business exports are now below those of Germany or the Netherlands.
The countries of the South and of the East are defending development aid, but they have not shown real efficiency in the face of the euro crisis. As for true investments in the future, they have been sacrificed. Europeans are unable to launch genuine research programmes and their infrastructure projects are a revival of major construction projects proposed by Mr Delors – in 1994. We have a right to expect much better.
* Read more here.