The Danish economic interest in investing in the environment
In 2010, DK contributed a total of EUR 2.38 billion (including customs and farm trade duties collected on behalf of the EU of which 25% was retained by DK) and received EUR 1.53 billion. European Commission (2011). EU budget 2010-Financial Report. Denmark’s position as a net payer country in the EU (a net contribution of EUR 851 million in 2010), gives it a key role in any EU budget debate, with the government normally seeking much more progressive positions with other like-minded Member States, notably the other net-paying Scandinavian countries.
The position of the Danish government towards the EU budget is characterised by the desire to improve and implement significant EU policies and to ensure efficient and effective financial investments as currently done within Denmark.
The awareness for environmental issues is relatively high in Denmark, including the economic benefits of the environment. For example, the environment in rural areas provides services such as food for livestock, clean water, climate regulation, erosion and pest regulation, and cultural heritage values. By 2050, the lack of implementation of biodiversity policy in the EU will cost EUR 1.1 trillion annually.
In 2010, the EU spent EUR 1.53 billion in Denmark, of which farm spending accounted for EUR 1.15 billion (75%), making it by far the biggest spending category in Denmark. Farm spending in Denmark is significantly above the EU-average share of 50%. These EU payments, mainly acting as income support for Danish farmers, have very few environmental benefits.
The current public debt crisis in the EU and Denmark’s role in it will clearly limit the availability of Danish 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.