In 2012, the EU budget is worth €147bn, of which the UK contributes around 11%, making it the third largest contributor amongst the 27 EU member states. Most of the budget is spent on CAP and Structural Funds. Some cash is also allocated to research & development, development aid, various cultural and communications initiatives and other spending areas. The EU budget also funds the EU institutions, such as the European Parliament and the Commission.
Over the last few years, the Commission has proposed a series of increases to the EU budget, despite member states themselves being required to cut spending at home. Are such increases justified and is the EU budget good value for taxpayers' money? The Fresh Start Project will look at the EU budget and propose how it can be reformed – including streamlining the EU institutions themselves - to better reflect the economic realities across Europe. It will also discuss issues that the UK government could push for in ongoing negotiations over the next long-term budget (set to run between 2014 and 2020).