‘Give us MORE’ EU budget boss tells taxpayers to cough up for £18bn post-Brexit black hole – Express.co.uk
He predicted that the loss of the UK could cause a hold in the budget of around £9.7 billion a year, whilst challenges including the migrant crisis and plans for an EU army needed another £6.2 billion.
But his demands are likely to go down like a lead balloon with a number of member states, particularly Austria and the Netherlands, who are totally opposed to stumping up any more cash.
Mr Oettinger, the EU Commissioner in charge of the bloc’s budget, made the remarks during a fiery speech yesterday in which he defended Brussels against accusations of largesse and waste.
The controversial German official, who has been caught up in a string of gaffes and scandals, insisted eurocrats would “justify the added value of every single euro spent” in the future.
In the past the EU has been accused of overseeing astonishing levels of lavish spending at the taxpayers’ expense, investing in fine wine, modern art and luxurious new office buildings.
The loss of one of its biggest net contributors is set to hit the bloc’s finances hard, but EU officials are adamant that it should not lead to cutbacks to their grand plans for the future.
They want to press ahead with their ambitions to further integrate Europe’s armies, invest in new weapons technology, centralise the continent’s immigration system and spend more on foreign aid.
But they are on a collision course with wealthier member states who, spearheaded by Austria, have already launched a counter-offensive to pre-empt any efforts to squeeze more money out of them.
Dutch ministers have said costs must be cut in Brussels, rather than taxpayers being asked to stump up more cash, while Vienna has vowed to veto any budget including an increase in its contributions.
And even Angela Merkel, leader of Europe’s powerhouse economy, has expressed reservations about asking ordinary German people to pay more into the Brussels pot after Brexit.
But in a speech in Brussels yesterday, a defiant Mr Oettinger said: “The EU is and will remain debt free, but now we have two budget gaps in the coming years. The first gap is caused by Brexit.
“Despite the rebate that Maggie Thatcher negotiated the Brits are nonetheless a net contributor, cannibalistically seen, and we’re going to be down to the tune of 10 or 11 billion euro structurally year after year.
“The second funding gap is down to tasks Europe wants to do, tasks that it makes more sense to do at European level. Adding all these sums up we’re talking about a lack of 20 billion euros every year a structural gap.”
He continued: “Now some say if you want to cover the funding gap just cut, cut, cut. Some reductions in spending would make sense but not massive reductions. We believe therefore that we need to seek new revenue, we need fresh money.
“We will justify the added value of every single euro spent but if we can provide that justification then we expect the European Union member states to give us the money because it is better for the European taxpayer at large.”
Mr Oettinger defended the EU’s cohesion fund, which channels around a third of the bloc’s total budget into infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe, saying in the long run improving the region’s economies would benefit the whole continent.
And he said “billions more” would be needed to shore up Brussels’ deal on migration with Turkey, whilst more cash should also be diverted to the Western Balkans to draw those countries away from Moscow and into the European sphere.
The top eurocrat said that if the other 27 leaders vowed to stump up the money to cover Britain’s departure it would be a show of confidence in the EU and “an excellent sign of good governance – the British go and the EU27 show that they can act”.