At the moment when the euro is not functioning as a currency because of a competitiveness gap between countries, the Council proposes to cut cohesion funds and investment in innovation and research with respect to the proposals of both the Commission and Van Rompuy. At the moment when 6 million young people are unemployed, the Council allocated a meagre 6 billion euros to training them for jobs which are unlikely to exist without stimulus. At the moment when investment in an integrated European economy is essential for creating jobs, bringing about a green transition and integrating the continent, European projects for each of these have been cut with the consequence of further exacerbation of the competitiveness gap between countries. At the moment when decisive political changes are happening on Europe’s borders, which will have effects for not only Europe’s future but that of the rest of the world, Europe’s foreign policy and aid capacity has been reduced.
The budget proposal of the Council represents the arrogance of national leaders thinking exclusively about their national interests in a short-term perspective. It is both an affront to the current European Parliament, which had urged for a forward-looking budget with investment in growth, as well as own resources for the Union, and an affront to European democracy to set an austerity budget for the next 7 years despite the election for a new parliament and new commission in less than two years’ time. For these reasons we call on the European Parliament to reject the proposal, as is its right under the Lisbon treaty, and to insist on an interim budget managed year-on-year until the elections. This would allow the Council to vote each year – without the need for unanimity which drives to the lowest common denominator – a budget that would be approved the parliament.
More than this, the proposal of the Council is an affront to European citizens who want to see European common goods protected and promoted throughout the Union: the proposal is a classic example of the Council dividing groups who lose out from the budget – young Europeans in the front line – into national constituencies, to silence any dissent under the dictum of budgetary responsibility and it being ‘a good deal for our country’. We must wake up to the common future of our continent and unite around alternatives to these proposals: we need a good deal for Europeans, not a good deal for the nation states.
European Alternatives is coordinating a participative, transnational and citizen-led process of drafting an alternative in its Citizens Pact, in advance of the elections in 2014, and will aim to have candidates take on board our demands. We think that these kinds of approaches, rather than closed-room, late night deals amongst national leaders, present a brighter hope for this continent and its citizens and a better example for the world.