Wednesday 2 May 2012

Member States v the Commission: the contradiction behind the EU budget

Member States reacted with shock that the Commission proposed a 6.8% increase for the EU budget, and the Commission argued it is necessary for the EU to be able to meet the commitments it has already made.

Really, it seems there's a contradiction between how the Member States act in the Council, and how they act outside it. In the Council they're open to all sorts of ideas and are trying to secure funding for themselves (the fight to retain structural funds and CAP money will begin in earnest if it hasn't already - Irish MEPs have already started to voice concerns over CAP).

Lately this kind of attitude can be seen in the UK's approach to the proposed EU PNR Directive, which will require the collection of data on all passengers flying into and out of the EU for the purposes of fighting crime and terrorism. The UK Minister for Immigration said to the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee that they managed to get agreement in the Council for the proposal to permit Member States to collect PNR data for intra-EU flights and for other modes of transport if they wanted. On the question of depersonalising data gathered that has been stored for other 2 years (to limit the data the government holds on people), the Committee reports:

"Whilst UK experience suggests most requests for access to full PNR data will be made within the initial two year period, the Minister recognises that the requirement to mask data (rather than to archive it in accordance with existing practice in the UK) will have operational and cost implications for which the UK may seek EU funding. [Emphasis mine]."

The UK is a major supporter and player behind EU security legislation, and if it feels that it could summit applications for EU funding over these issues, the question has to be: where does the money come from? There are far more Member States which do not have any PNR system in place at all and would have to create their own if this Directive passes - should they get funding as well? This application might not yet have been made, but if Member States are caught in a culture where commitments - and funding applications - are easily made, but little thought is given to how they will be paid for, then perhaps its better to turn to a system of own resources, where the EU raises its own funds, within limits and subject to the consent of the Council and EP.

The more the institutions have responsibility for raising funding as well as spending money - and the more we can hold them directly accountable for it - the more pressure there will be to rationalise what the money will be used for.

1 comment:

  1. So unlike Member States to want all the benefits and take on none of the responsibility.