Better value for taxpayers' money. This is the core idea behind the topic of performance-based budgeting that the EPP Group Bureau is discussing this week in Prague.
"The EU budget is an investment budget and almost 90% of EU resources are spent in the Member States on policies that benefit citizens directly. Red tape, procedural delays and bad management are the main issues that prevent the EU budget from truly unleashing its potential in restoring growth and jobs in the EU," explains EPP Group Vice-Chair Marian Marinescu.
Red tape, procedural delays and bad management are the main issues that prevent the EU budget from truly unleashing its potential in restoring growth and jobs in the EU Marian Marinescu
Together with the Group, Marinescu is promoting a new way of thinking in EU budgeting. It is along the lines of EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva's ‘EU Budget Focused on Results’ initiative, where she sets a goal to invest the EU budget according to the Commission's policy priorities.
EU spending per capita is not growing
As demand for EU funding is rising along with the tasks, obligations and expectations that Member States are setting for the Union, the money must be well-spent. In fact it must be spent better than ever before, because much more must be achieved with an amount of money that has stayed at the same level for decades.
In the last years of the previous century, a much smaller European Union spent the same or an even larger amount of money per citizen for far fewer things than today. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, Member States set new obligations for the EU and are expecting it to take care of lots of new challenges, like the recent migration crisis. This means that the money available must be used in a more effective and efficient way to bring results.
Linking financing with performance outcomes
Effective and efficient spending is better spending that can be achieved by linking financing with results. When we have the best possible information on the results of past spending combined with a pre-evaluation of potential future spending on different programmes, we get to know where the money brings the best results.
The EPP Group underlines that performance outcomes are more important than simply spending the appropriations available as has been the habit thus far.
Building a budget should be based on the relationship between programme funding levels and expected results
"We need new ways of evaluating the implementation of the budget based on performance indicators and measurements of the usefulness of completion of the projects for society. We need to combine quantitative and qualitative measurement of results. Building a budget should be based on the relationship between programme funding levels and expected results," underlines Marinescu.
Simplified rules, less bureaucracy
The EPP Group wants to invest in doing, not in administration. Therefore it seeks to revise and simplify the European Union's financial regulations. The idea is not to change the rules every now and again and from one funding programme to another.
And finally we should also pay attention to the controls themselves so that they don't form an excessive burden for beneficiaries. Many farmers, for example, have experienced different authorities checking the same things over and over again. Therefore the EPP Group is promoting the single audit scheme where only one reliable auditor is needed.
The Group also wants to place controls where the risks are! Higher risk, more controls - lower risk, less controls.
"We need to take a step back and think about how we should spend the money even more efficiently," says Marinescu. "The answer is performance-based budgeting."