Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (10 April) shared the Federal Government's response to the planned revision of the EU budget in a letter to EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
The response, the draft of which was coordinated by the Federal Foreign Office, contains the following key points:
- Seize the opportunity for reform: the Federal Government welcomes the opportunity to take a critical look at the traditional structures within the EU budget, evaluate policies, formulate the goals of European action more precisely and gear European instruments to address new challenges. This also applies to structural and agricultural policy.
- Focus on the future: the budget must focus more on financing new tasks in order to strengthen the Union's ability to master the challenges of the future. Innovation as well as greater competitiveness and sustainability are of central importance.
- Take subsidiarity seriously and pay attention to European value added: not every challenge needs a financial response. In many cases, regulation can achieve more than spending policies. National financing should have precedence over Community financing if the purpose can be achieved just as well that way.
- Allocate national contributions fairly: the distribution of the financial burden must be proportionate to the economic performance of Member States and the prosperity of their citizens.
- Simplify the own resources system: contributions from the Member States should depend on their economic clout. New EU taxes are unnecessary.
Last autumn, in its consultation paper “Reforming the budget, changing Europe”, the EU Commission set a dialogue process in motion and called upon governments to submit their national ideas on the future of the EU budget by mid-April. This reform process for the EU budget is based on an agreement between the heads of state and government concluded at the December 2005 European Council.
There the decision was taken – as part of the overall agreement on the EU Financial Framework 2007-2013 – to review all aspects of the EU budget.
The EU Commission will publish a comprehensive report on the future of the EU budget by 2009 at the latest. Germany is still the largest net contributor in the EU. As such, with the recent submission of the Federal Government's response it is playing an active role in the reform process initiated by the Commission.