A top-to-bottom overhaul of the European Union budget was demanded by Conservative MEPs today as the European Parliament in Strasbourg debated a looming black hole in spending plans.
Budget spokesman Richard Ashworth said a complete rethink of spending patterns was needed to head off a worsening payments crisis caused by a yawning gap between the EU’s commitments and its anticipated funds.
“Current spending plans are unsustainable,” he said. “The solution is not continually to seek an increased budget. Instead we must work within fiscal limits and set the correct priorities within them.
“That means conducting a radical review of the whole budgeting process.”
MEPs were debating EU Commission figures showing that member states submitted claims in 2013 which were €10bn above those from 2012.
Mr Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, said he fully backed recent cuts to the EU budget – but he also supported increased spending on initiatives to combat youth unemployment, stimulate economic growth and boost research, development and innovation.
He stressed that the only way to achieve both those things was for traditional spending to be cut to allow greater focus on the areas that mattered.
“Unless there is a significant reduction in other traditional spending patterns, an ever-deepening payments crisis is inevitable. We must prioritise spending strictly in line with value for money,” he said