1. Exquisite Tweets from @MESandbu

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    In my @FT column this week, I urge European leaders to treat the next seven-year EU budget as a policy tool and a matter of statecraft. That means shifting the discussion from the funding side - who pays what - to the spending side - what is it for? I offer some proposals.

    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    First, Europe is still far too disconnected physically (which includes digitally). The single market relies on transactions being as close to zero as possible regardless of where in Europe you are. And its biggest domestic political problem is rooted in regional divergence...

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    ...*within* almost all its nation-states. So much more investment on all sorts of connecting infrastructure could both consolidate the single market and address the grievances of left-behind regions.

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    Second, there are huge returns on subsidising research and development in areas aligned to European political values and goals. Climate-friendly energy is one, and overlaps with the first area (connective infrastructure). Privacy-friendly digital technology is another.

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    Third, if China with its Belt and Road can have as its ambition to shape the economic geography of (at least eastern and southern) Europe, and thereby of course its political geography, then surely so can Europe itself! Especially as Chinese promises of investment have so far...

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    ... been disappointingly small. In other words a little spending on an agenda of how Europe's eastern-southeastern economic geography should look, and projecting such an agenda onto the broader Eurasian economic space, can achieve a lot. (Again, overlaps with the first point.)

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    Fourth, putting more money behind refugee and asylum settlement would at least smooth the path to more agreement in that area.

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    Finally, a much punchier level of investment spending along these lines would have a much stronger effect in terms of macroeconomic stabilisation than the new eurozone budget will have. Mr Macron and other advocates of EZ stabilisation function should take note.

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu

    In national politics, democratic politicians know very well that budgets are their most powerful tool to shape the trajectory of a country, and build political allegiance for their preferred course. It is time they start to treat the EU budget in the same way. /ends

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    MESandbu

    Martin Sandbu