In our attempt to simplify Europe’s budget complexities, we have identified several insights out of the visualisations above:
- Overall, the new European budget seeks balance in a new fashion. Countries or regions with low economic performances continue to receive extra EU support but the European Commission is guiding member states in two directions: innovation and research, in order to maintain the EU’s business edge and tech autonomy, as well as security and defence, in anticipation of tensions to come in the neighbourhood.
- Accordingly, we have also noticed a general decrease in Cohesion funding – whether regional or social. In spite of regional adjustments, cuts are likely in the North, in the West and in the North-East, while South-East countries (Bulgaria, Romania) and Southern countries (Spain, Italy, Greece) are exceptions to that rule. This is in line with economic difficulties on this part of the continent, as seen with GDP per capita comparative numbers.
- The European Commission proposal for 2021-2027 matches some of the electoral feedback from 2019 European elections : more is done on migration, border management and defence. Yet, little has changed in terms of funding for climate change and the environment, hence the “climate transition”efforts suggested by the new Commission President, Mrs Ursula von der Leyen. Additionally, one may argue that the support for innovation and digital policies, coupled with the decrease of funds for agriculture and fisheries, may widen the divide between small towns and larger urban centres. Regional discrepancies remain a core issue in the EU: the economic gap appears to be increasing between capitals and their regions, despite these welfare adjustments.
No budget proposal is ever perfect. Yet, in our view, the Commission's draft is a fair attempt at adapting to European and global dynamics. Its boldness comes with potential side effects and political headaches though: will budget cuts for North-Eastern countries result in additional strain between East and West? Will new term MEPs, two thirds being unfamiliar with Brussels’ intricacies, have enough time and experience to think this budget’s logic through? Will they be able to find a consensus in such constrained financial and political circumstances, with Brexit still unresolved and no new significant revenues?
European Members of Parliaments appear ready to tackle these issues. Whatever the outcome, it is our belief that the level of the EU’s upcoming budget should match what is now expected from Europe – both at home and abroad. Brussels cannot do more with less.
Special thanks to Dhara Shah, Founder Pykih, for the data visualisation support.