22nd Jan 2022

June budget deal 'reachable,' Lewandowski says

  • Budget deal 'definitely reachable' - Lewandowski (Photo:

A June deal on the seven year EU budget framework is "definitely reachable", said EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski on Monday (13 May).

Speaking after the first round of negotiations with MEPs and ministers, Lewandowski said that a deal on the €960 billion package agreed by EU leaders in February could be signed and sealed before the end of the Irish presidency of the EU in June.

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In March, MEPs voted to reject the €960 billion settlement, which covers EU spending between 2014 and 2020, and represents a 3 percent real terms cut on the previous budgetary framework.

Deputies on the parliament's negotiating team had also refused to begin negotiations without assurances that shortfalls in the 2013 budget would be covered by governments.

In April the European Commission requested an additional €11 billion to plug gaps in the 2013 budget, with a number of MEPs on the parliament's influential budgets committee indicating that a further €5 billion would likely be needed.

The parliament wants to agree a 'flexibility' mechanism allowing monies to be transferred between different years and budget headings. This, they say, would avoid a repeat of late last year, when the commission ran out of money to cover bills from programmes such as the European Social Fund and the Erasmus student exchange scheme.

The parliament has also demanded a mid-term review of the budget settlement after the 2014 European elections and changes to the EU's system of 'own resources' allowing the bloc to raise more money itself. MEPs want revenues from a tax on financial transactions to help fund the budget, arguing that this would make the budget less vulnerable to haggling with member states on their annual contributions.

Following the talks, Irish deputy PM Eamon Gilmore, leading attempts to broker a deal between parliament and member states, said that he was "convinced that, if there is a will on all sides, we can reach an agreement during our presidency".

The next round of negotiations has been set for 28 May, although behind-the-scenes haggling between the institutions is likely to intensify in the meantime.

Parliament president Martin Schulz has also indicated that deputies will be seeking to increase spending on growth-driving infrastructure projects.

Over 60 legislative files dealing with EU spending are on hold until a budget deal can be reached, including rules governing €325 billion of cohesion funds for the bloc's poorest regions.

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