Never in the last 15 years, EU own resources have been as high on the political agendas as in the last two years. Academia and research centres have contributed and continue to contribute to the political, economic and technical analysis and a public debate has started in the inner circles.
This debate is technically complex and politically explosive but, without simplifying should address some of the questions below:
- Which are the most suitable resources to enhance the European integration?
Several studies have been presented recently on this subject. Many proposals are on the table and many assessment criteria to achieve the four weaknesses identified by the first report of the High level group on own resource (HLGOR) lack of simplicity, of transparency, of fairness and of democratic accountability. There is a base for a decision which should take into account the pros and cons of all the stakeholders, including the Member States.
- Is the procedure for the decision on own resources relevant?
The decision making process to decide the annual financing is fundamental. Member States should not be deprived by the high level decision on the sources of financing: which source of financing should be used and up to which limit. But the community method, adapted to the issue, should apply for the annual decision.
- Can own resources be discussed without mentioning the EU expenditure?
The discussion on own resources cannot be isolated by the debate: which money for which Europe. The reform should not be an objective in itself, but linked to the model of Europe we want. This debate is particularly relevant nowadays with the reduction of support of the public opinion for the European ideals but also with the need of more Europe to face the transnational challenges. Following the lessons of the Founding Fathers, Europe should act when the action at European level is more efficient that at national level. EU Budget should finance, in theory, European Public Goods and not national goods. A reform of the own resources system cannot ignore this fundamental principle embedded in the Treaties (subsidiarity). A reflection on this aspect should be part of the debate on fair EU taxes.
- How the reform can be communicated?;
Finally this question includes all the precedent points; any ambitious reform implies, if not the revision of the Treaties, at least the decision on own resources, which, by its nature, is submitted to the approval of National Parliaments. The communication will be then essential to gain the support of public opinion. At the time when the disaffection to the European integration process is widening in Europe, a reform introducing a more EU Fair tax system, linked to a reform of the expenditure, could already start with the mid-term review of the Multiannual financial framework. This could offer a new vision of Europe which could be the object of debate within the European political families and a confrontation in view of the next election of the European Parliament and of the appointment of the next President of the European Commission.Author : European pratictioner and researcher