The net operating balances or the ‘Juste retour’ approach

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Series Details PE 648.760
Publication Date February 2020
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Operating budgetary balances (OBBs) are calculated and published annually by the European Commission as an attempt to document the differences between a Member State’s financial contribution to and its allocated expenditure from the EU budget. OBBs have become a highly politicised concept, with substantial shortcomings. Calculating Operating budgetary balances (OBB) is purely an accounting exercise.

This is most convincingly demonstrated by the zero-sum assumption inherent in the Operating budgetary balances concept, as a positive OBB of one country must necessarily be offset by a negative OBB of equal size by another Member State. Evidently, such a perspective stands in sharp contrast with the idea of an EU budget that is not primarily meant as a system of fiscal redistribution, but rather as a means to generate European added value..

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