Europe’s heads of state will come together for their next summit and to ratify the European budgetary framework for the coming years. What may sound like a routine yawner is really a meeting at which nothing less than the future of Europe will be decided — and especially Germany’s role in that future. On those two days in June, the assembled heads of states will decide how much each member state should pay to Brussels and how much it should receive in payments from Brussels, if anything.
The potential pitfalls are huge; the European Commission’s proposals in this regard are completely unacceptable to the German government. According to the current draft of the legislation, which bears the relatively innocuous-sounding title “Financial Forecast for 2007 to 2013,” the EU’s budget will increase from about €100 billion this year to €158 billion in 2013. This increase would have serious consequences for Germany, which, as Europe’s largest economy, pays by far the most into the common budget. Between now and 2013, Germany’s contribution to the EU would almost double, to about €40 billion. Instead of the current 8 percent of its federal budget, Berlin would then be required to send more than 10 percent of its budget to Brussels.
The authors observe that
the Germans send significantly more money to Brussels than they receive back. In 2003, the difference amounted to €7.7 billion, making Germany the biggest net contributor by a long shot. Only the Netherlands and Sweden pay more on a per capita basis.