Dutch join protest over EU’s 2008 budget

The Netherlands is one of several EU countries which is protesting against the size of the EU’s budget for 2008, news agency ANP reported on Monday. The European Union is planning to spend €121bn next year, a 5.3% increase on 2007.

The Netherlands claims that Brussels does not spend all the money it sets aside. It also believes that by setting such generous expenditure levels, the EU has no stimulus to work efficiently. The budget is due to be presented to finance ministers on Tuesday.
The UK, Germany and France have also criticised the spending plans. Member states are due to decide on the budget in mid-July.
It is not the first time the Netherlands has been involved in trying to reduce EU spending levels. And while the 2008 budget is within previously-agreed limits, it is still too close to the maximum, Dutch officials are reported to have said. The budget allows for a 5.7% increase in spending on administration, 10% more to help settle immigrants and 14% for energy networks.
Meanwhile NOS reports that European Commission officials are considering cutting subsidies made to Dutch farmers because of a lack of checks on whether the money is being properly allocated.
And the Commission has also criticised the increase in the Dutch budget deficit which is now heading for a 0.7% shortfall. Last year, the Netherlands was heading for a budget surplus, the Commission said.

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