On 18 March, the European Parliament tweeted a video about the new budget resources it says it needs to meet new EU challenges. The clip, which is produced to highlight certain findings of a parliamentary report, is characterised by a number of odd claims. The first, is that 94% of the EU budget goes straight back to its citizens. This is, however, explained as going to:

regions, cities, farmes, businesses and young people,

which is a fairly curious definition of both ‘straight back’ and ‘citizens’. The clip also claims that MEP’s stress that EU taxpayers should not have to pay more. Instead, the EU needs to find new, own resources. The clip’s suggestions?

a financial transaction tax, a digital sector tax, and a share of corporate tax revenue or environmental taxes.

It is hard to see how more taxes are ‘own resources’, rather than, well, more taxes. It is suggested – probably falsely, but more on that later – that these new taxes could mean a reduction of the direct contributions EU member states make to the budget. This comes at a price, however. It would mean, of course, less influence for member states and thus, indirectly, less democratic control for EU citizens.

Also note that farmers and businesses are to be regarded as EU citizens when they get EU funds, but apparently not when they are expected to pay taxes. And of course, it is clear, that one way or another, EU citizens would end up paying for those extra taxes.

But there is one more assertion in the clip that is worth mentioning, because of its implications:

Parliament says [the budget is] not enough to match the EU’s ambitions and to face new challenges like migration, security and climate change.

From the report (PDF) indicating Parliament’s position on the matter, a couple of things can be learned. Firstly, (point D) that the budget is ultimately not the EP’s responsibility, but that of the (unelected) European Commission. Secondly, that despite failing in its ambitions (point A), being unable to follow its own rules (point 51), and being in arrears of payment to the tune of €24.7 billion (point 56), instead of calling for more controls and oversight on spending, the EP says it

Is convinced that, unless the Council agrees to significantly increase the level of its national contributions to the EU budget, the introduction of new EU own resources remains the only option for adequately financing the next [Multiannual (sic) Financial Framework (MFF)].

The EP’s response to Brexit and the subsequent loss of the UK as a net-payer, is to call for an increase in the budget, and says it:

Believes that a stronger and a more ambitious Europe can only be achieved if it is provided with reinforced financial means; calls, in the light of the above-mentioned challenges and priorities, and taking into account the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, for a significant increase of the Union’s budget.

So faced with a huge loss of income, the plan is to ignore that and ask for a higher budget. But how absurd this sounds from a common sense perspective, it is the logical outcome of the way the EU apparently sees itself in relationship to its budget. Point 15:

Reiterates its long-standing position that the Union’s political ambition must be matched with adequate financial resources and recalls that Article 311 TFEU states that the Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry out its policies.

The EU’s problem in a nutshell; if you let ambitions govern the level of your budget, your ambitions will always outstrip your budget. Let’s stress this again: it is called a principle of the EU budget that it must be made to match the EU’s ambition. “O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that…