This morning I at last got down to reading a fascinating European Policy Centre analysis (by Fabian Zuleeg) of the forthcoming financial perspectives discussions/negotations, worryingly entitled ‘In danger of breakdown: is the EU approaching budget stalemate?’ Zuleeg’s central thesis, echoing what Janusz Lewandowski told EESC Bureau members in November (see post here), is that the Lisbon Treaty now enshrines a bias towards the status quo, with its provision that the last year of the previous Multi-Annual Financial Framework is continued if no agreement is found. In other words, absence of agreement plays into the hands of the hawks. The author also points to the trend whereby traditional ‘own resources’ is a dwindling part of the EU’s overall budget, with an increasingly large proportion (currently 93 beuro out of 122 beuro) coming from Gross National Income contributions from the Member States, leaving the EU’s budget increasingly open to the critical gaze of hawkish treasuries. I found particularly fascinating the facts assembled in one section of the paper. Who are the net contributors? Well, we know Germany pays the most (23.7 beuro in 2010), followed by France (20.3 beuro) and Italy (16.2 beuro). The UK only pays 13.2 beuro. But there are two other ways of looking at the picture. If you look at net balances, Germany (8.1 beuro) still leads France (4.7) and Italy (4.1), but the UK (1.4) then comes in after the Netherlands (2.0) and Belgium (1.5). Lastly, though, if you look at things on a per capita basis then Luxembourg, Denmark and Belgium (€166, €149 and €136 respectively) lead the way, followed by Slovenia (€131), the Netherlands (€124) and Germany (€99). Such alternative figures and comparisons put things in a different perspective.