Open and no holds barred – this is the type of debate the EU hopes to stimulate with the public consultation exercise it is launching today.
Open – because it should involve everybody with a stake in EU spending, at all levels of decision‑making and including the general public.
No holds barred – the EU wants this consultation to throw up any ideas and suggestions that could help it, in the medium and long term, to profoundly change all aspects of how it gets and spends money. No ideas should be taboo.
The questions put to the public mainly involve how EU cash can best be used to achieve the bloc’s priorities.
EU policies and the financing for them need to change with the times. To meet the demands of a continent that is constantly evolving in terms not only of its goals but of how to achieve them, and which is part of a fast‑changing world, the EU must be prepared to change how it works, and especially the financial tools it uses. So the point of the consultation is not to see whether reform is necessary but rather to gather concrete suggestions for how it can be done.
There is evidence that much spending is more effective when managed from Brussels. So it’s the right time to ask whether such spending could be redirected or even expanded to cover new fields.
But the reform will not amend current spending caps (as set out in the EU’s financial framework), nor will it radically change the distribution of funding.
If you want to contribute to the reform debate, you can send suggestions to the EU’s new spending reform website. As well as hosting comprehensive information on the reform, this site will publish all contributions sent to it between now and 15 April 2008.
In the next few months, other steps will be taken on the road to reform. In November, the budget committees from the European Parliament and the EU’s national parliaments will meet in Lisbon. Next spring, a conference will analyse the results of the consultation. And at the latest in early 2009, the EU will unveil its actual spending reforms.
Any suggestions for the EU spending reform?
EU Budget – get your facts straight