An audacious plan, clever tactics and ambitious strategy sees Transport under fire

Building the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor 5c in Bosnia

Building the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor 5c in Bosnia

EU Budget summit

Herman van Rompuy might not have been surprised as he sat down for talks with David Cameron yesterday, but DriveEuropeNews certainly was.

After a promise to all European voters to contain spending, rather than angry tub thumping Cameron presented a fully-costed plan for how the EU’s next budget could be reduced.

For starters, £4.85bn would be slashed from the pay and perks of EU employees by upping the retirement age to 68 and cutting pension contributions.

The major target though is the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The €36bn project to build integrated infrastructure across the continent would be cut by €20bn.

Read more on Cameron’s strategy here.

The thinking is because CEF hasn’t started yet people won’t miss the money. That €36bn neatly bridges the gap between the UK and the European Commission on the budget.

But unavoidably CEF is one of the practical manifestations of the United States of Europe idea. Any delay in its implementation puts off the time when the EU to all intents and purposes physically becomes one country. The ‘project bonds’ issued to leverage private investment alongside CEF are also a prototypical way for the EU to raise funds in its own right for the first time.

Apart from all that, the benefits to the UK from CEF are unclear.

Transport will take 60% of the budget. The remainder splits evenly between energy and telecommunications. Roads make up a tiny percentage, the lion’s share of the cash goes to rail, sea and air – so called core projects – but still, the overall budget will be a huge increase on the €8bn allocated to Transport 2007-2013.

The latest report says Cameron has secured a €4.5bn reduction in CEF. As they head into the next meeting with agreement unlikely, it’ll be interesting to see if Cameron takes a fresh crack at CEF in January.

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