Explanation of the game

Welcome to Budget Europe, the interactive budgetary game about the budget of the European Union. How would you distribute the money if you were in charge of Europe? Is the contribution of the people in the member-states well spent or not? In fact, what does the EU do with all that money? You can find the answer here at Budget Europe!

Lots of money? We are talking about the budget of the European Union, which means the money the European Commission is spending. The EU budget for this year (2011) is set at 142 billion Euros. That seems a lot, but the budget of a country like the Netherlands alone is bigger. The budget of the EU is, thus, not the sum of the budgets of all EU countries (member-states). It concerns the money the countries are spending as a whole.

Spending money means making choices. Often, an additional job doesn’t bring in enough money so that you can buy everything you want. This means you have to choose what you’re going to do or buy with that money. This is exactly the same for the European Union. Spending money on one thing means there is less money for the other. How is the EU spending her money?

The European Union has divided her expenses into several budget items:


Sustainable growth
Natural resources
Freedom, safety and justice
  EU as a global partner 

Sustainable growth


 Research, education and innovation: Europe has a strong economy. To keep it strong the EU invests in her knowledge-based economy. A substantial part of the money is spent on research, education and development. This involves projects on nutrition, health and education, but also astronautics! Besides that there is also money for new ideas, products, services and processes.

Example: The EU has assigned more than 7 billion euro to the promotion of so-called lifelong learning through exchanges, study visits and networking. Projects are designed for individual students and pupils, but also for adults who want to keep learning through further education and training.





Networks of transport, communication and energy: Europe has many highways, rails and air routes. In order for everyone in Europe to be within easy reach of each other, money is invested in the furher development of these connections. This is after all also beneficial for the economy because products can then reach their destination in time. However, Europeans also need energy and communication (for instance internet!). The EU supports projects that stimulate the development of those too.


Example: The EU gets more than 50% of her energy from outside of Europe. However, for energy it wants to get less dependent on countries from outside Europe. That’s why the Intelligent Energy for Europe Program was developed. With this program the EU searches for own sources of energy (through wind or sun). For this the EU has made available more than 727 million euro.



 Modernisation of less developed areas: Some areas within the EU are poorer and less developed than others. These poorer areas get extra money. They use this money to make up arrears in economy, environment and society, as well as improving roads, airports, canals, bridges and the internet. Strengthening these weak areas produces a stronger and more steady basis for the entire EU.


Example: In Italy small villages are connected to the internet. In the Netherlands the entire 18-september square in Eindhoven is being renovated with a cycle shed underneath. The EU contributes to these improvements with more than one billion Euros.


Regional competitiveness, employment and collaboration: Europe wants to make sure that there is enough work across all regions. By doing this people don’t have to move to areas with more employment, and welfare will be spread equally. This can be done by developing new programs that improve the position of certain areas so that they can compete in the world economy.


Example: The EU stimulates that two eastern provinces of the Netherlands (Gelderland and Overijssel) are expanded to a leading european region regarding innovation (mainly technology). The EU is stimulating the development of new companies and ideas by spending more than 363 billion euros on these initiatives (between 2007 and 2013).


Natural resources


Environment: The EU is fighting hard against pollution. Clean air, clean water and less CO2 production are all part of this program that not only contributes to a good health of humans and animals, but to the future of the earth and nature as well. It includes informing people about climate change; how can we Europeans fight this problem?


Example: Thanks to the EU investments are made into programs that develop new and clean power facilities. The Netherlands has the BLUETEC program (worth 7.9 billion euro) that performs research into the production of power using the tides of the sea.



Agriculture and fisheries: European farmers are protected by the agricultural policy that gives them extra money when they sell products, as well as support to their companies. This means that our food is qualitatively good, relatively cheap and at the same time farmers are getting a good price for their products. The EU invests in the continued existence of fish, despite the fact that they are being caught for nutrition.


However, this policy has a downside: farmers from developing countries are practically not able to compete with European farmers. That’s why the EU has been trying to reform the agricultural market. More information on this issue can be found under now and in the future.

Example: With little money from the EU Spain has organised an exchange for young European farmers. The objective: talking about the future of agriculture in Europe and the possibilities of sustainable production. Through this exchange, knowledge can be shared with others.



 Rural development: The EU invests in employment in rural areas and tries to stimulate the establishment of different kinds of companies in these areas. By doing this, the EU tries to make sure that not only farmers work in rural areas, but other entrepreneurs as well. Besides that, the EU is trying to get more tourists to rural areas while maintaining nature at the same time.

Example: In Friesland they started an initiative called ‘Jonge Friezen Foarut’, which tries to prevent youth from moving to the bigger cities. Yougsters are stimulated to think about their possible future in Friesland.




Media, culture and Young Europe: The EU supports filmmakers and artists in practicing their work. Culture can be preserved by investing in heritage and museums. But investments are also made into independent newspapers that provide good information. Besides that, Young Europeans ae supported by European initiative.

Example: Youth in Action (885 billion euro) is an important European program for young people in which they get to know Europe and the fact that they are European civilians. They learn about the diffirent backgrounds and cultures of (young) people in Europe. How? Among other things, through the organisation of exchanges and projects regarding democracy and policy of the EU.



Health and consumer protection: The EU spends money on health issues of citizens, the protection of consumer rights and communication with civilians. Doing this, eduaction about healthy nutrition, drug and alcohol use or diseases can be provided. Also, sports is being stimulated.

Example: The EU has a European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control which keeps an eye on the possibility of a threat to public health. Diseases like the mexican flu, food-and-mouth-disease and avian flu can be fought better for diseases don’t care about borders!


Freedom, safety and justice


Safety, freedom and migration: In Europe we are used to freedom and safety but these things are not self-evident. To protect these privileges, money is needed in order to support refugees and guard the external borders. Most of the money is spent on controlling migration flows. This includes the integration of immigrants into the EU, but the return of denied immigrants as well.




Fundamental rights and the Justice Department: The EU makes free travelling, through EU memberstates, possible for all EU citizens except criminals offcourse. Transgressing criminality and terrorism are combated with money from this budget item, through collaboration and information exchange of criminal files.

Example: According to the Treaty of Prum, EU countries are allowed to compare DNA profiles, fingerprints and number plates. From august 2011 this can all be done automatically. Criminals or people that violate the law can be cought faster, even if they are travelling through Europe.


EU as a global partner


 Developmental aid and emergency aid: The EU donates money to non-European countries improving their development, for instance developmental aid. The objective is peace and safety in the entire world. Money is available for Kosovo and Palestinian institutions that try to help the people. Besides that the EU also donates emergency aid when disasters occur.

Example: The EU donates seeds and chemical fertiliser to farmers in Zimbabwe zo that they can grown their own crops and fight poverty.



Democracy, human rights, foreign policy and safety policy: The EU tries to promote democracy and human rught in all countries. In addition, the EU invests in the safety of non-European countries; for instance by usings diplomatics when a conflict is evolving or by preventing that these conflict get out of hand.


Example: In August 2008 the EU established a truce between Georgia and Russia, and sent people to keep an eye on the situation there. The EU provided humanitarian aid to displaced people and organised an international donor conference for Georgia.

Example: Europe always had a strong presence in the Middle East and will keep on having an important diplomatic role in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian areas.

Example: In Nepal, 4000 former child soldiers (10-18 years) and other kids that live in armed conflicts, are supported.







mondiale stabiliteit

Global stability: There are many ways to keep the world in balance. Take a look at the influence of drugs, the use and clearing of mines, crisis management. Helping people rebuild their lives can contribute to the prevention of new conflicts in the world.

Example: The EU supports the reintegration of former combatants who wanted a free Aceh (in Indonesia). They are provided with new ways of earning money, which makes fighting less attractive.




Clearly the EU donates money to European institutions and her own committees. This includes the wages of all employees; the officials, but the interpreters and translators as well. Up to 23 languages are spoken in the EU!

Example: Administration also includes the monthly move of the entire European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg. Read more about this under now and the future.




The EU has four sources of income:

All member states have to transfer a percentage of their gross national income to the EU. The wealthier a country, the more contribution.

* All member-states have to transfer a part of their Value Added Tax income to the EU

* The safety policy of the EU also produces money; when products are imported into Europe, a fee has to be paid. This fee goes to the EU cash desk

* Finally, the EU sometimes receives money from employees and sometimes there is some money left from previous years

Deficits? Governments often have a budgetary deficit. When you’re shortcoming money, you have to loan some. That’s why most countries have a national debt and have to pay interest on that debt. The European budget doesn’t have a shortage. This is not possible because member-states have agreed that the EU is not allowed to loan money. When there is a deficit the member states have to make up on that by paying more contribution.