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Is it possible to make EU budgets a force for good?

The Ecologist

31st October, 2012

With better planning, EU spending can finance projects which bring environmental, social and economic benefits to all, says a new coalition of campaign groups

This year, the European Commission and Parliament, alongside governments of member states, are meant to decide the shape of the next one trillion EU Budget to be used between 2014-2020. The main debate, at the moment, is between net contributors asking to decrease the overall size of the budget — it’s austerity times, we need to cut down on public spending, be frugal, in order to restore growth, so the argument goes — and net beneficiaries who want it kept at one trillion.

The fact that this debate has evolved into an all-out war (at least, by Brussels standards) shows that quite many miss an obvious reality: well spent public funds create public good and stimulate the economy at the same time. The last EU Budget proves it. Even though there was a lot of bad spending, many good projects, bringing environmental, social and economic benefits, were developed across the EU with budget funds, many of them regionally administered.

The video here - and an associated map of good projects - produced by CEE Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF, illustrate the potential of a well-designed European budget. In the development of the next European Budget, decision makers must make sure that such projects are prioritised and bad spending is reduced to a minimum.

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