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经济学人:喜剧贯穿闹剧?各国首领彻夜争论欧盟财政预算

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Charlemagne

查理曼大帝专栏
No to EUsterity
欧盟无需紧缩
The European Parliament threatens to veto a hard-won budget
欧洲议会扬言将对来之不易的财政预算投上反对票
The bitterest family rows are often over money. So it is with the European Union’s leaders. For three years they have argued over who should pay what to save the euro. Earlier this month presidents and prime ministers battled through a sleepless night and a day over the EU budget. Back home, some of the disputed sums might have been approved on the nod.
一般而言,最为激烈的家庭纠纷都围绕金钱问题。本次欧盟(European Union,EU)各国领导人亦不例外。在围绕救助欧元区的责任人以及救助金额上,这些首脑们已喋喋不休了三年之久。本月初,这些首脑再次齐聚一堂,就欧盟财政预算,彻夜不眠地争论了一天一夜。而在散会之际,大家对部分有争议的预算数额已达成共识。

欧盟无需紧缩.jpg

It is an absurd way to run the world’s biggest economy. The comedy of interminable haggling is compounded by the farce of each leader twisting the numbers to claim victory. Such is the misery that the EU now draws up budgets for seven-year periods. But this is too rigid—even the Soviet Union limited itself to five-year plans. And it magnifies the sums at stake: nearly a trillion euros for 2014-20. Looked at another way, though, the budget is only about one-fiftieth of public spending in the EU. For rich countries, net contributions amount to about 0.3% of GDP.

作为管理世界第一经济体的手段,共同协商确实有失偏颇。一方面不休止的争论中,还如同喜剧中贯穿着闹剧般,夹杂了各国首脑为求胜利而歪曲预算金额的片段。而其结果,欧盟不得不忍着痛苦起草了长达七年之长的预算。但这一预算过于僵化,就连当初苏联(Soviet Union)所定的计划期限也仅为五年。同时,这些重要的预算金额(2014年至2020年期的预算金额约为1千亿欧元)也受到夸大。事实上,若以其他视角看来,该预算仅占约欧盟政府支出的五分之一。而对某些富裕国家,净出资仅达到约自国GDP的0.3%。
One reason for the budget mess is that the money comes from national treasuries, creating a zero-sum game. Another is that the budget must be agreed unanimously. A third is the economic crisis. Most net contributors cannot see why the EU should be exempted from the austerity it preaches to others. And for those running deficits every pound, crown or euro sent to Brussels is an extra pound, crown or euro that must be borrowed.
预算如此混乱,其首要原因在于救助金来自各国政府,这将欧盟变为一场零和博弈。其次,欧盟规定财政预算只有在全体一致同意下才可通过。随后,经济危机也是原因之一。欧盟在向各国鼓吹财政紧缩的同时,自身却无需紧缩财政,这让大多救助金的净提供国感到不解。同时,对于陷入财政赤字的欧盟国家而言,所有流向欧盟的资金都必须作为救助金向其借贷。
As if steering a budget past 27 national vetoes were not hard enough, there is now the threat of a 28th, from the European Parliament. A rejection would be its most confrontational act since it forced the resignation of Jacques Santer’s European Commission in 1999 over allegations of corruption. Would MEPs really dare be so bold, not to say insolent?
而今,欧盟仿佛嫌27国以否决权协商财政预算不够艰难,欧洲议会(European Parliament)自身作为第28个拥有否决权的主体加入其中。1999年,贾克斯·桑特(Jacques Santer)为首的欧盟委员会因遭贪污指控,而在欧盟要求下全体辞职。本次欧盟否决权将是此事件以来最具威力的手段。但欧洲议会议员们是否敢于(而并不过分地)行使否决权呢?
Voting in the European Parliament is unpredictable. Without such notions as a government or an opposition, party discipline is weak. One Eurocrat quips that “the whole parliament is the opposition”. The single idea that unites most MEPs is a desire for “more Europe”, which usually means more euros. Power derives from the ability to spend. Because the EU does not raise taxes directly or borrow, there are no votes in calls for spending cuts.
但欧洲议会内的投票难以预料。由于不存在所谓政府和对立的概念,议会的规矩十分松散。一位欧盟官员曾讽刺道,“整个欧洲议会全是反对派。”大多议员能团结一致的关键在于同一个想法,即“加深欧洲一体化”,通常也意味着增加欧洲资金。一切权力来源于金钱。由于欧盟并不直接征税或借入资金,欧洲议会难以通过财政削减议案。
MEPs were outraged when EU leaders decided, for the first time, to trim the budget for 2014-20 by 3% from the previous period. This was a triumph for Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, who also preserved his country’s much-hated rebate. How, critics asked, could he dictate a budget for the whole EU, running to 2020, when Britain might not even belong after 2017, when Mr Cameron wants to hold a referendum on membership? In truth, the budget was dictated by Angela Merkel. The German chancellor lined up with Mr Cameron against France’s Francois Hollande, who clumsily allied himself with the parliament. The budget ended up where she wanted it: at 1% of gross national income.
而本次欧盟财政问题上,各国首脑首次决定从今期开始削减2014年至2020年财政预算的3%后,欧洲议会议会十分震怒。英国首相大卫·卡梅隆在支持紧缩欧盟的同时,也推迟了国内屡遭不满的减税政策,本次决定对其而言是一大胜利。然而,评论家质疑道,根据卡梅隆所提出关于欧盟去留的全民公投,英国或许在2017年退出欧盟,那么他有何资格要求欧盟执行一项时至2020年的预算计划呢?事实上,该计划的推行者是德国总理安格拉·默克尔(Angela Merkel)。与卡梅隆结盟后,默克尔面对的是法国总统弗朗索瓦·奥朗德,而奥朗德则失败地选择了与欧洲议会联合。欧盟最终达成财政预算正如默克尔所期望的,为德国国民总收入的1%。
Even before the summit ended, the leaders of the four parliamentary “families” had issued a joint statement declaring the deal to be unacceptable. Their leverage is enhanced by the 2009 Lisbon treaty, which stipulates that the budget must be approved by an absolute majority of the whole assembly (ie, absences and abstentions count as No votes). Fringe parties of left and right will probably vote against, as could several in opposition at home. French Socialists are being urged by some in Paris to “improve” the terms secured by Mr Hollande.
本次欧盟峰会结束前,议会“四大家族”(译者注:欧洲议会的四大政治党团,分别是人民党、社民党、自由党和绿党)发表联合声明,表示无法接受各国首脑提出的预算计划。2009年欧盟签署的《里斯本条约》(Lisbon treaty)规定欧盟的财政预算须获得欧洲议会绝对多数票后才可通过(缺席和弃权皆算作否决票),该条约也加强了欧洲议会的权力。对于本次财政预算,正如欧洲各国反对党那般,欧洲议会内的左右翼各小党也表示反对。其中,位于法国巴黎的部分成员要求法国自由党(French Socialists)“改善”奥朗德所接受的条款。
A stalemate would suit a few. It would push the EU to annual budgets based on 2013 levels, producing higher spending than agreed on by the summit. Yet it would antagonise two groups: recipients of cohesion funds, who would struggle to plan multi-year projects, and net contributors with temporary rebates that will lapse without a new budget (Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden).
这一僵局对部分人士比较有利。欧盟的财政预算最终会被推向以2013年为基准的平均水平,进而造成高于峰会所通过的支出数额。但这样一来,两大阵营将会形成对立:一方是不断调整长期计划的被救济国,另一方则是需新财政计划以维系临时回扣的净出资国(如奥地利、德国、荷兰和瑞典)。
Many MEPs will come under strong pressure from national capitals. The threat of removal from party lists for next year’s European election explains why some want a secret ballot, strange as that may seem. Behind the posturing lies a readiness to compromise. Governments hint they would accept some of the parliament’s demands, such as a commitment to review the budget in two or three years’ time or greater flexibility to move money between headings and from one year to the next. Catherine Trautmann, leader of the French Socialists, says: “We seek a negotiation, not the politics of the empty chair.”
欧洲议会的众多议会还面临国内政府的巨大压力。由于担心明年被免除欧盟党团选举的资格,议会投票过程并不公开,哪怕该过程看似异常。在此过程背后,不难发现议员们乐意妥协。而各国政府也暗示将接受欧洲议会的部分要求,如承诺二、三年内检讨财政计划,以及在第二年内增强各国政府间资金流动性。法国社会党领袖卡特琳·特劳特曼(Catherine Trautmann)对此表示:“我们寻求协商,而非空椅子上的政治。”
Time to cut the CAP
削减CAP
Euro-federalists say it would all be much easier if the EU could raise taxes directly. “The Americans said no taxation without representation. But in the EU we have representation without taxation,” complains Sylvie Goulard, a French liberal MEP. Yet most governments treat the EU as an international organisation and want to retain control over its money.
欧盟支持者表示,若欧盟能直接征税,一切将容易许多。一位法籍自由党团议员Sylvie Goulard予以支持道:“美国人说过‘无代表不纳税’,而目前欧盟则是‘有代表不纳税’。”但欧洲各国都视欧盟为国际组织,不希望由其掌控资金。
The argument boils down to the question of where democratic legitimacy really lies. Little-known MEPs can scarcely claim to command greater popular allegiance than national political leaders, unloved as some may be. And the European Parliament is unlikely to make itself more appealing by overruling national treasuries and parliaments, let alone seeking to exact European taxes on top of already high national ones.
纳税的争论最终归结为欧盟的民主法治程度为何。相比各国首脑(尽管其中部分缺乏人气),欧洲议会的无名小卒始终难以拉拢民众。同时,为了提高民众支持,欧洲议会不可能否决各国经济和政治决策,更不可能对那些已然重税缠身的国家开征欧洲税。
Rather than moan about marginal cuts to a small budget and pursuing the chimera of “own resources” (eg, EU taxes on carbon or financial transactions), the parliament would do better to focus on the real outrage—that EU leaders did so little to change outdated spending priorities. They have left close to 40% of the budget going to agriculture, an industry that generates less than 2% of GDP. Slashing the CAP could release resources for areas where the EU can genuinely enhance growth, like research, education and cross-border infrastructure. The EU could have the best of both worlds: less spending and more European value.
对于欧洲议会而言,与其抱怨财政预算的细微削减或寻求“自身资源”(如开征欧盟碳排放税或金融交易税等)这一幻想,不如着力于改善真正的公愤问题,即为欧洲首脑们无视的公共开支落伍的优先顺序。根据峰会达成的预算,财政支出的40%将投入农业,而该产业的产出不足于GDP的2%。若大幅削减欧洲共同农业政策(CAP),欧盟将会空出资源,以便促进其研发、教育和跨国基础设施等领域的有效发展。无论是减少财政预算,还是抬高欧洲价值,欧盟都可做到最好。翻译:沈骜

译文属译生译世

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interminable [in'tə:minəbl]

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adj. 无限的,冗长的

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opposition [.ɔpə'ziʃən]

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n. 反对,敌对,在野党

 
voting ['vəutiŋ]

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n. 投票 动词vote的现在分词形式

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claim [kleim]

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n. 要求,要求权;主张,断言,声称;要求物

 
summit ['sʌmit]

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n. 顶点;最高阶层
vi. 参加最高级会议,

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leverage ['li:vəridʒ]

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n. 杠杆(作用,力量),举债经营 v. (使)举债经营

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dictate [dik'teit]

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vi. 听写
vt. 口述,口授
n

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outdated [.aut'deitid]

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adj. 旧式的,落伍的,过时的

 
insolent ['insələnt]

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adj. 粗野的,无礼的

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austerity [ɔ:s'teriti]

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n. 朴素,节俭,苦行

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