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This year, the European Commission and Parliament alongside governments of member states are meant to decide the shape of the next one trillion EU Budget (to be used between 2014-2020). The main debate, at the moment, is between net contributors asking to decrease the overall size of the budget — it’s austerity times, we need to cut down on public spending, be frugal, in order to restore growth — and net beneficiaries who want it kept at one trillion.

The fact that this debate has evolved into an all-out war (at least, by Brussels standards) shows that quite many miss an obvious reality: well spent public funds create public goods and stimulate the economy at the same time. The last EU Budget proves it. Even though there was a lot of bad spending there, many good projects, bringing environmental, social and economic benefits, were developed across the EU with budget funds, and many of them with regional funds (which represent around a third of the overall budget).

You can see the examples on this map created together by Bankwatch, Friends of the Earth Europe and WWF:

Next to the map, and the lovely video, you can read about ways to make a difference on how the next EU Budget is structured. Despite seeming abstract and remote, the EU Budget can make a huge positive difference in our lives if we use it cleverly.

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