Caritas Europa calls for clear priority of social dimension in EU budget

Date

23 Apr 2008

Sections

Social Europe & Jobs

Responding to a public consultation launched in September 2007 by the European Commission on the review of the 2008/2009 EU Budget, Caritas Europa urges the EU to give social dimension a clear and strong priority in the EU budget.

Designed in broad consultation with its member organisations, Caritas Europa’s response to this public consultation is composed of a series of seven proposals. They aim to convert the EU budget into an efficient tool that improves the Union’s social dimension, as well as its social footprint abroad.

Up until now, successive EU budgets have focused too strongly on purely economic issues failing in giving a reality-based priority to the social dimension.

The current dominant belief that social well-being improves as economy progresses has fallen short of reality. On the contrary, the Union’s economics-focused spending is in contrast to the deceiving social development score of the last ten years.

The EU general budget for 2008 will be
€120 346 758 612 in payment appropriations. Nearly 0.96% of the total GNI of the Member States.

Photo: European Parliament

Poverty has being steadily rising during the last decade. More than 79 million people are today living in poverty in the EU. One in five children lives below the poverty line, and income difference between the haves and have-nots has widened.

Meanwhile EU budget spending keeps focusing on growth-based goals that neglect any notion of who is actually benefiting from this growth and who doesn’t.

The role of the budget in EU’s development and humanitarian aid actions is also very important. Budget spending allocated to development and humanitarian aid abroad should also be impregnated with a clear and strong social dimension.

European decision makers know that global development and humanitarian aid needs will increase, not only to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, but also to confront the future effects of the ongoing climate change, urbanisation, food scarcity, disease pandemics, population mobility etc.

Therefore, the EU has the obligation to limit and counter these scenarios by granting a higher priority in its spending to development and humanitarian aid.

Caritas Europa advocates for a clear priority for social dimension in the EU budget, which should lead to efficient, poverty-proof and gender-sensitive EU policies for the Union and abroad.

Moreover, Caritas Europa urges the Commission to abolish the current system of correction mechanisms of the budget that allows certain Member States to pay a lower EU-fee than what they proportionaly should. These mechanisms are against the Union’s principle of solidarity. They create a sense of injustice among citizens and challenge the credibility of the EU’s core principles.

Finally, the network recommends the Commission to aim the budget towards the financing of public goods that should be beneficial for all citizens; to enhance the design and spending of the EU budget by involving more actively the civil society in this process; and to make budget spending more effective by cutting red tape in the area of project funding.