EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

  • We should reassess our approach to the European Union as an additional source of revenue for our national budget. It is nonsensical to calculate whether we pay more into the EU treasury than we receive in form of subsidies.
  • European finances must address Europe-wide challenges, not substitute our own national investment in infrastructure or kindergartens.

On 2nd May 2018, the European Commission published the very first draft of the new Multiannual Financial Framework, whose final version will directly determine the actual form and size of the annual European budgets between years 2021 and 2027.

In this context, we are having a pointless debate about how many Euros we will lose in comparison to the current MFF.

Our economy has been rapidly converging with the EU15, and if the current economic trends remain the same, the Czech Republic will likely reach the EU´s average GDP per capita around year 2028. This is extremely positive as it shows that the transformation of Czech economy has been successful, and that the Czech Republic is a prosperous country. Thus, the Czech Republic should finally stop measuring the EU membership effects in Euros received from the EU budget. The demeanour of a child comparing how much candy his brothers receive in a candy store is not befitting for the country.

The European Funds has contributed partially to the Czech economic success – an analysis issued by the Czech Office of the Government estimated that the EU subsidies contributed to the Czech annual growth with approximately 1.7%. The number is high, nevertheless, if the decrease of EU financing were gradual, the Czech economy is more than able to cover any potential disruptions. After all, Czech administration is notoriously known for not being able to effectively spend all the allocated money.

Instead of counting how many Euros we received and did not manage to spend, we might start thinking about how to invest the resources we have effectively.

Moreover, losing access to the European funds does not mean that the Czech Republic would benefit less from its contributions to the EU budget. For example, Czech taxpayers would surely approve if their money was paid out to Italian coast guard or Polish border units who protect the common Schengen area. Another example might be the development aid – the Czech government has constantly been saying that Europe must address the root causes of migration, so is it not a good idea to financially support a sound European development aid, which can achieve more than Czech aid alone?

These and many other examples well depict that the benefits of the European budget cannot be assessed only through the Czech net position towards the EU.

The development of the last 5 years showed that the current world is quickly changing and that it is full of challenges which can be solved only if all member states decide to cooperate. The sooner we realize this, the better for us all.

Vít Havelka

 

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