Monday, 19 November 2007

EU budget reform with unreformed CAP?

Roman Maruhn has written a clear synthesis of the questions concerning a reform of the budget of the European Union: „Auf dem Weg zu einem neuen Politikmix? Die Überprüfung und Reform des EU-Haushalts“. A budgetary system described as a historical relic and an un-transparent monster is certainly an object worthy of study and reform.

Gobalisation, climate change, energy security, energy market, immigration and integration, growth and jobs as well as enlargement belong to the challenges the EU Commission has named at the launch of the budget review 2008/9.

Maruhn remarks that the future functions for the EU, as visioned by the Commission – protection, solidarity and prosperity – are not fully covered by the tasks attributed by the coming Treaty of Lisbon. The Commission wants to achieve a new policy mix, based on European added value.

Lacking powers to raise taxes, the European Union’s is likely to continue to suffer from continued intergovernmental bargaining, far removed from the European common good. The less than satisfactory funding system is complicated by the budget rebates.

Some of the conclusions:

Spending reform can offer chances to set new political priorities. The budget reform should not be underestimated, since it could new strategic courses being set for the European Union. Budget reform should be seen in conjunction with reviews of the basic treaties, the common agricultural policy (CAP) and cohesion policy.

Future enlargement of the Union brings pressure to bear on the costliest policies of the EU. Has the case for a more political and democratic tax financing of the EU weakened along with the scrapping of state-like symbols and citizens as sources of legitimacy? The Commission has an interest to review and reform the EU budget; the participatory consultation process serves as a means to this end.


Maruhn’s paper offers an introduction to the background for long overdue EU budget reform. Let us hope that the Centrum für angewandte Politikforschung and the Bertelsmann Forschungsgruppe Politik continue their efforts to produce analysis for better EU strategies – institutional, substantial and budgetary – and that they are joined by many others.


Notre Europe, the think-tank established by former Commission president Jacques Delors, has taken on a very French mission: a study on the conditions under which European agriculture could fit into the world economy over the next twenty five years.

A host of papers has been published (of which I mention a few) for the EU agricultural policy post-2013 and a task force appointed, headed by Franz Fischler, the former EC Agricultural Commissioner, and Henri Nallet, a former French Minister for Agriculture.

Since even the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has hinted at a willingness to review some aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Notre Europe task force might end up with reform thoughts of a kind, but radical reform plans would be highly unexpected.

Let us wait and see, but consumers and tax payers may have to look elsewhere.

Ralf Grahn


Roman Maruhn: Auf dem Weg zu einem neuen Politikmix? Die Überprüfung und Reform des EU-Haushalts; CAP Aktuell Nr 14, November 2007;

François Bonnieux: Farming and the Environment: prospects and proposals; Introductive Paper to the task force 10 September 2007;

Pierre Boulanger: Les arbitrages budgétaires; Papier introductive à la réunion de la task force du 10 septembre 2007 ;

Damien Fontaine : L’intégration des nouveaux Etats membres dans la nouvelle agriculture européenne ; Papeier introductif à la réunion de la task force du 10 septembre 2007 ;

Anne Claire Thomas : La gestion du risque prix après 2013 ; Papier introductif à la réunion de la task force du 10 septembre 2007 ;