Defending a pro-European budget

The last EU Summit made visible once again the most striking weakness of the European Union: the lack of determination to generate solidarity between the Member States and the lack of common vision. European leaders failed to reach a political commitment for a social budget after 2020. The discussions on the next Multiannual Financial Framework reflected a few member states’ reluctance to invest more in our common future.

Today Europe stands fragile, facing the Brexit challenge, ahead of its next, critical parliamentary elections. Stigmatised after years of financial policies largely guided by austerity principles, with dramatic social and economic costs, our union faces youth unemployment, wealth and territorial inequalities, the migration crisis, social exclusions, climate change. These challenges require strong European responses and solutions. And unfortunately, the current European budget -bearing cuts to solidarity and cohesion policies- is a step back from the ambition we have for a stronger and more united Europe.

We, as members of the Progressive Caucus want to offer an alternative plan for the EU, in line with our “Missing Scenario”, i.e. our response to the five scenarios proposed by the Commission which failed to suggest an ambitious way forward. Our proposal is to move away from the ‘status quo’ as well as from the proposals made by Macron and Merkel that are not questioning the existing governance and the austerity dogma. We want a European Union based on the principles of democracy, solidarity, social justice, and environmental sustainability.

The EU cannot postpone the review of its budgetary system. The European Union needs a system predominantly based on own resources. This is why it is essential to increase tax collection capacity, fight tax avoidance and evasion, and ensure tax justice. It is time for all economic sectors to start contributing to the investment in European Public goods. It is also time to give the European Union a budget that matches its missions and ambitions.

Ahead of 2019, the year of the next European elections, we propose a truly pro-European budget, based on the following:

  • More autonomy based on an “own resources system” with revenues coming from the long-awaited tax on financial transactions and contribution from the EU common consolidated Corporate Tax Base;
  • Clear investment in climate-related spending and incentives for the transition towards low-carbon economies;
  • Pre-eminence of social rights, social and territorial cohesion;
  • Concrete policies and instruments aiming at tackling unemployment, with strong investments in research and innovation;
  • More resources for education, youth and culture programmes that will stand against exclusions;
  • Universal access to health-care
  • More resources to support the reception and integration of migrants, in the context of a much-needed reform of the Common European Asylum System based on solidarity and equal sharing of responsibilities
  • Supporting a stronger role of the EU on the external dimension, in civilian conflict prevention, peacebuilding, human rights and humanitarian aid
  • Investing in long-term and genuine development policies
  • Promoting the establishment of an overarching strategy for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

All the above must go hand in hand with a process of democratization of EU Institutions, rules and procedures that entails more transparency, and the strengthening of the role of European Parliament including of its scrutiny rights. In the long run, this process will imply a reform of the Treaties. We deem essential to increase citizens and parliamentary oversight over the way EU money is spent, also by reinforcing controls on spending. Since we want the principles of transparency and democracy to be at the heart of the European project, those principles shall also be reflected in the way the EU budget is managed. We, as Member of the European Parliament, commit ourselves to try influence the Multi-Financial Framework towards this direction.

Originally published here