Think of the former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s famous persuasion techiques aimed at fellow European leaders over the UK’s budget rebate in 1984. Or, to invoke the English vernacular usage of the word ‘handbags’, consider the arguments and debates over national contributions and methods of raising EU budgetary income that we already see breaking out following the European Commission’s budget review announcement for the future 2014-2020 period.
Yet what about pausing to reflect on purses, more precisely the benefits to the purses of half a billion people in Europe. An EU budget geared to delivering low-carbon economies can create sustainable green jobs, can help to safeguard the public goods of climate and biodiversity, not to mention improve quality of life across the EU.
Bankwatch believes that the recent budget review announcement from the Commission is a good start in the quest for translating future EU budget billions into quality outcomes for Europe’s people and their environment. Even if it remains shy for now of placing figures on necessary clean energy and transport spending as well as financing for protecting Europe’s endangered eco-systems, we have seen encouraging indications of intent from the Commission: included are plans to mainstream environmental considerations across all EU policies as well as to kick-start green technologies and services via the budget.
Such an approach, coupled with much more pragmatism from the member states themselves on hitting the EU’s 2020 targets on climate change and biodiversity loss, can make up for the short-sighted EU budget planning of the past (pdf): in the current 2007-2013 budgetary period, for instance, climate mitigation measures including energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives are receiving a mere EUR 9bn across the 27 member states, a mere 2.6 percent of their total EU funds for the period.
The energy being deployed – most volubly by certain usual suspects – on income-raising squabbles ought to now be refocused by the member states to ensure that they get their EU spending planning and systems right, well in advance of 2014-2020: Europe’s member states should be focusing on how best to tap into the vast green potential of the future budget. There are massive energy savings and a myriad of other benefits to be claimed real, sustainable benefits that deserve a hearing above the clamour for cuts and the waving of handbags filled with carbon-intensive shopping lists.
Original image CC 2.0 by Jennifer König (accessed November 2, 2010)
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Institution: EU Funds
Theme: Transport | Resource efficiency