How Germany can tackle the EU financial crises by investing in the environment
Germany is a top net payer country in the EU, with a net contribution of EUR 11.9 billion in 2010. In the period 2007-2013, Germany received EUR 9.08 billion of agriculture funds and EUR 26.4 billion from the Cohesion Policy. These EU payments are of high importance to German farmers, and as far as Structural and Cohesion Funds are concerned, especially for the less economically developed regions in Eastern Germany.
The position of the German government towards the EU budget is largely characterised by the desire to improve its net payer position, i.e. limit the overall size of the EU budget and thus Germany’s payments and ensure a high share of EU subsidies for German regions and farmers. The current German government so far opposes the European Commission’s idea of increasing own resources for the EU budget through taxes. Due to its size, economic and political influence Germany plays a key role in any EU budget debate, with the government normally seeking coalitions with other like-minded and influential Member States, notably the other net-paying countries.
The awareness for environmental issues is relatively high in Germany, including the willingness to spend public money on the environment, also outside Germany. The current public debt crisis in the EU and Germany’s role in it will clearly limit the availability of German public funds for the environment. At the same time, it is an opportunity for a debate on the most efficient and wise use of taxpayers’ money and for the phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies.
The German government, the Environment Committee of the Federal Parliament and the Chamber of the Regions have called for a significant increase of the budget available to the EU-LIFE Programme in 2014-2020.