No strong Europe on the cheap, writes Lucas Guttenberg in the Süddeutsche Zeitung

The EU needs financial heft and flexibility in its next long-term budget to tackle big global problems.

When they meet on 20 February to hash out the European Union’s next long-term budget, EU heads of state and government should heed two takeaways from the last seven-year budget, which focused single-mindedly on recovering from the financial crisis, writes Lucas Guttenberg, Deputy Director of the Hertie School's Jacques Delors Centre, in an opinion piece in German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

EU leaders must build both financial capacity and flexibility into the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF). It must incorporate mechanisms that allow a flexible response to shifting priorities, and it needs financial heft to tackle today’s huge global policy challenges – climate change, migration and digitalisation, among others.

“A real security and defence policy or a common humane approach to migration and refugees costs money, which until now the EU has not had,” he writes. “Unfortunately, the discussion in Germany is dominated by a different measure: success means paying as little as possible and squeezing the most out of it.” The government wants to reduce the upper spending limit in the new budget, even though it pledged when taking office last year to strengthen the EU financially, Guttenberg says. But: “…an EU capable of action cannot be achieved without significantly higher German contributions.”

Read the full article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. (In German)