President Juncker, The European Commission President, has been widely quoted as saying that the EU is running out of money and its budget is too small. It wants to double spending associated with the migration crisis to €10bn, but also emergency aid for North Africa and Turkey, as well as compensating struggling dairy farmers and front-loading €1bn of support to the Greek budget.
Already the EU Annual Budget is heading towards the €150bn mark, an increase of over 3.5% on last year, a totally inappropriate figure since EU economic performance is not showing any strength of a similar increase.
I have a suggestion for Mr Juncker and it runs as follows:
Research into the list of EU Quasi-Autonomous Governmental Bodies (Quangos) shows that the EU has some 38 of these, with a total budget of just under €2bn and spread out with a headquarters in one of virtually all Member States ranging from Estonia to Latvia and Ireland. Examples are the Community Plant Variety Office, the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers, the European Institute for Gender Equality, the EU Judicial Cooperation Unit: the list goes on! One or two may do useful work, but by closing most of them there could be a saving of at least €1.5bn.
Then there is some 15 billion of EU aid for overseas development. The Sunday Times on 17th January highlighted that most of this aid failed to achieve objectives. More than 900 aid projects are delayed or will fail. The lack of accountability in the EU and the wide incidence of corruption associated with this aid is beyond belief.
So, Mr Juncker, a radical trimming of Quangos and a real focus on accountability and performance in overseas aid would almost certainly take over €10bn out of your annual budget and at the same time yield improvement in EU performance and efficiency: exactly what Mr Cameron wanted, but didn’t get.
So, hey presto, your EU budget could be back in balance and no trip on the gravy train around Member States for yet more money!