Dutch foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra has rejected outright a call by the president of the European parliament, Antonio Tajani, to double the EU budget.
‘It is not a good proposal,’Halbe Zijlstra said in Brussels. ‘We want to make sure that the Netherlands, as a net contributor, does not end up with the biggest bill.’
Instead, the EU should be modernising its budget, spending less on agriculture and and more on new policies in areas such as innovation, he said. In addition, a link should be established between spending and compliance with agreements on the budget, migration and the rule of law.
Tajani suggested doubling EU spending from the current €140bn a year to €280bn in an interview with regional media in Germany. The additional money would not come in the form of higher contributions, but possibly via a tax on financial transactions, Politico.eu reported.
Dutch MEPs described the proposal as outlandish. ‘Naturally we have ideas about the future of the European budget, but they are nothing like this,’ said Esther de Lange, the leader of the CDA delegation in Brussels.
Jan Huitema, the VVD’s spokesman on agriculture, described Tajani’s remarks as bizarre. ‘The EU should actually learn to look far more critically at its pattern of spending. At the moment spending is based on the available budget, which creates the perverse incentive to actually spend it all. As a result, too much money is wasted on political hobby horses,’ he is quoted as saying by the Financieele Dagblad.
Labour parliamentarian Paul Tang described the plan as ‘too idiotic for words’.