Groenendijk, Nico. (1999) “Budgetary Discipline in Brussels: Numerical Target or Procedural Rules?”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Pittsburgh, PA. (Unpublished)
With the coming enlargement of the EU, and with the ongoing dispute over the national incidence of the EU-budget, budgetary discipline with respect to the general EU-budget will become of increasing importance. Budgetary discipline can be achieved by commitment to numerical targets, or by procedural strategic dominance of a party that is sympathetic to the efficient use of public resources (like a Minister of Finance on the national level). As for the EU-budget, at this moment a range of numerical targets is used, such as the VAT-call-up-rate and -ceiling, the own-resources ceiling, and the agricultural guideline. As a result of Agenda 2000 these targets have been supplemented by rules concerning the structural policies, and regarding pre-accession and accession expenditure. In addition to these numerical rules, various procedural rules are used, mostly relating to the division of budgetary competence between Commission, Council, and Parliament, instead of rules that institute strategic dominance of one of these parties. In this paper these rules as well as their application are critically assessed, focusing on the period 1977-1999. It is concluded that both Commission and Council have wrongfully stayed clear of introducing new procedural budgetary rules. Instead of that, they rely heavily on new numerical targets, that give cause to rigidity and creative budgeting.
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