The European Union’s budget for 2018 is EUR 160 billion. Is that too little or too much? In the view of the EU Parliament and the EU Commission, it is too little to meet the many challenges facing the EU of 500 million inhabitants. From the point of view of some Member States, the budget is too high. The Austrian government is of the opinion that savings are necessary overall, but especially in the EU budget, while other countries such as France or Germany have declared their willingness to pay more in the future.

For comparison: Germany (pop. 80 million) has more than double this amount, namely approx. 338 billion. Austria (P.E. 8.5 million) has a budget of approximately 92 billion euros for 2018. Although the competences of Member States cover many expensive policy areas, the imbalance cannot be overlooked. The chronic underfunding of the EU is due to the fact that Member States‘ contributions (max. 1% of countries‘ GDP) account for the overwhelming majority of the budget and the Heads of State and Government have so far not agreed to any reform that would bring more own resources to the Union.

The population demands rapid, consistent pan-European solutions for burning issues such as immigration, (youth) unemployment, security policy, the financial crisis and refugee policy. However, the EU budget remains small, as the member states want to save. The money is therefore not enough to combat the crisis. The expectations of Europeans are inevitably disappointed. Confidence in the EU is falling. Euroscepticism is intensifying, which is reflected in the election of anti-European parties, resignation or protest. The disintegration of the EU is the final consequence of this logic. The financial deficit is accompanied by a democratic political deficit, because EU citizens still cannot change this policy on their own. This would require far-reaching reforms in the direction of the United States of Europe, which should include strengthening the parties at EU level. While there is often too much party politics at the national level, there is too little of it at the EU level. In other words, the complex decision-making structures mean that citizens do not know which party is currently at the helm in the EU and how they could be voted out of office in order to strengthen another party. An effective European Union with problem-solving capacity can only come into being if it has more money at its disposal in the future and if the European parties are strengthened.

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