Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Gerrit Zalm weigert surplus EU-budget te delen met nieuwe lidstaten (en)

Following a European Commission announcement on Wednesday (12 May) that it will return its 2003 budgetary surplus to EU member states, Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has said he is against new member states profiting from the surplus.

European budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer said that the EU budget for 2003 reveals a surplus of 5.47 billion euro.

In return, the Commission will reduce member states' contributions to the budget of 2004 - including the contributions of the new EU countries which became members of the EU on 1 May.

Ms Schreyer said yesterday, "The 2003 surplus represents savings for all 25 Member States, as it will mean a substantial reduction in their contributions to this year's budget".

But, some are not so pleased with the news. Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm said yesterday, according to De Volkskrant, that the 10 new member states should not be granted a share of the EU budgetary surplus.

A spokesman for Mr Zalm described the division of the budgetary surplus as "very peculiar".

He said that under the Commission proposal, the new member states would profit from a budgetary surplus to which they had not contributed.

However, Commissioner Schreyer told journalists yesterday that she was bound by the EU treaty to cut all member states' contributions.

"Since 1 May we are 25 member states", she said.

Moreover, she said that a rise in expenses on structural funds was expected in the coming years, due to implementation delays.

"The new member states will also need to contribute to these expenses", she stated.

Under the Commission's scheme, the new member states would profit from only 2.9% of the 5.47 billion euro surplus.

The countries benefitting the most will be Germany (who will enjoy a cut of 1.2 billion euro), the UK (927 million) and France (890 million).

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