-Parliament reverses all cuts proposed by Council to the draft 2018 EU budget
-Boosting funds for research, infrastructure projects and to fight youth unemployment
-EP’s negotiating team now has a strong mandate for the upcoming budget talks
MEPs set overall EU budget for 2018 at €162.6 billion (+1.2% on the Commission’s draft budget) for commitments and €146.7 billion (+0.9%) for payments.
In their budgetary resolution, MEPs reaffirm their commitment “to financing Union policies that enhance jobs and growth in all its regions through investments in research, education, infrastructure, SMEs and employment, in particular among young people.” They nonetheless stress that they fail “to understand how the Union can achieve progress in these fields considering the cuts proposed by the Council (…).”
The resolution on Parliament’s position on the EU's budget for 2018 was approved by 414 votes to 163, with 90 abstentions.
Youth, growth and jobs
MEPs increased the Youth Employment Initiative by €366.7 million in commitment appropriations, raising the total to €600 million, to help youngsters desperately seeking a job.
They rejected the Council’s “unjustified €750 million cuts” in the “growth and jobs” area, warning that such cuts “would jeopardize programmes with real European added value and a direct impact on job and growth creation, such as Horizon 2020 or the Connecting Europe Facility.”
They therefore decided to reinforce, on top of the Commission’s budget proposal, “those programmes that are key to boosting growth and jobs and that reflect widely agreed Union priorities, namely Erasmus+, Horizon 2020 (Marie Curie, European Research Council, SME Instrument), COSME, and EaSI (Progress and Eures).”
Refugee and migration crisis, cutting funds for Turkey
For Parliament “tackling migration and security must remain top Union priorities”, say MEPs, adding that the available funds have proven “vastly insufficient to fund adequately the internal dimension of those challenges.”
They have therefore boosted the Commission's draft budget for agencies with security-related tasks including Europol, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).
Similarly, for the external dimension of the migration challenge, they reversed almost all of the Council’s cuts and reinforced the relevant budget heading by €299.7 million (on top of the draft budget) on the EU’s external action, which includes the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhoods.
For Turkey, MEPs cut pre-accession funds by €50 million (with a further €30 million put in reserve) in view “of the worrying deterioration of the situation as regards democracy, rule of law and human rights.”
Lead rapporteur Siegfried Mureşan (EPP, RO) said: “We want to achieve our priorities of firstly growth and jobs, and secondly, the safety, the security of citizens, by investing in research and innovation, infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises, the Erasmus programme. We also want to strengthen measures on combating youth unemployment, and stand by the side of young farmers. In order to provide for more security, we want to strengthen the agencies of the Union which have responsibility for justice and home affairs, these being: the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), Eurojust, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Frontex, Europol.”
“We will not accept any cuts on important programmes for European citizens during the upcoming negotiations with the Council”, he underlined after the vote.
The plenary vote kicks off 21 days of “conciliation” talks with the Council, with the aim of reaching a deal between the two institutions in time for next year's budget to be voted on by Parliament and signed by its President on 30 November.
What are commitment and payment appropriations?
Given the need to manage multiannual actions (e.g. financing a research project lasting 2-3 years), the EU budget distinguishes between commitment appropriations (the cost of all legal obligations contracted during the current financial year, possibly bearing consequences in the following years) and payment appropriations (money actually paid out during the current year, possibly to implement commitments entered into in previous years).