Compared to the size of the governments of its member states, the EU is very small. Yet it wields broad power, and that’s why this week’s fight over its spending is important.
The current budget proposal from the European Union’s executive arm, the Commission, calls for a €1.03 trillion ($1.31 trillion) spending ceiling for 2014-2020. This will mean each member of the EU contributing about 1 percent of its annual gross domestic product to the budget. Some of the money is then invested across Europe on various projects designed to bolster the region’s economy: On subsidies for essential industries such as agriculture or fishing or on other joint projects such as border control and diplomacy. About 80 percent of the budget is redistributed back to the member states for spending, with the rest going to the Commission.
On a relative scale, the amount of money being debated is not large. The EU’s budget for 2012 is less than one-sixth that of the U.K.’s.