Commission President Barroso has demanded an increase of the EU's budget to 1.14 per cent of GNP. "Europe cannot have ambitious policies with insufficient money," he said in an interview with five European newspapers on 20 August 2004.
"My starting-off point will be the proposal that the Prodi Commission made," said the new President, referring to the long-term budget plan of the EU, the 'financial perspective' for 2007-2013, which was presented by his predecessor in February and July 2004. This proposal points to the recent enlargement of the EU and new Community responsibilities to justify an increased budget.
However, this budget increase is strongly opposed by the EU's net contributors such as Germany, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden. In a letter to the Commission, this 'gang of six' had in December 2003 demanded to cap the EU's budget at 1 per cent of GNP (see EurActiv 16 December 2003 ).
The German government has quickly reacted to Barroso's comments by confirming its former position. "There is no need to change the attitude of the German government," said a spokesperson to the newspaper Der Spiegel on 20 August 2004. In July, Germany and France had argued that they could not be expected to cut their national deficits while at the same time having to increase their contributions to the EU budget.
Meanwhile, Barroso has asked Germany in particular to rethink its position. Moreover, he suspects that the net contributors' remarks might be purely tactical. "This is not serious," he said in the interview.