Sunday

14th Aug 2022

EU parliament sets pre-conditions for budget talks

Governments must cover the EU's old budget debts before a deal can be reached on the bloc's next seven year budget, MEPs decided on Wednesday (13 March).

Deputies in Strasbourg voted by a 509 to 161 margin to back a resolution setting out the parliament's negotiating stance on the "multi-annual financial framework" (MFF) expected to start in 2014.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • MEPs demand an emergency budget to cover unmade payments, worth around €2.9 billion, from 2012 (Photo: European Parliament)

EU leaders agreed a deal worth €960 billion in commitments and €908 billion in payments at February's budget summit, a 3 percent real terms cut.

However, the parliament insisted that it would not open negotiations until governments agreed to fund an emergency budget to cover unmade payments, worth around €2.9 billion, from 2012.

The resolution also calls on governments to agree a "political engagement" to guarantee funding for 2013 spending.

The EU assembly's other main demands were the creation of a flexibility mechanism allowing money to be shifted between years and budget headings. It also wants agreement to hold a mid-term review of the budget following next year's European elections.

Alain Lamassoure, who chairs the parliament's budget committee, said that the "extremely important" vote marked the start of a long battle with governments who had ignored "repeated warnings" from MEPs about funding shortfalls.

He slammed the horse-trading between governments as "political and budget cronyism at its worst," adding that "envelopes with figures were being handed out to member states. That simply cannot go on."

Assuming member states make good on the 2012 budget shortfall demands, talks between MEPs and ministers on the MFF are expected to start quickly.

For her part, Irish Europe minister Lucinda Creighton, who will attempt to broker a deal in the remaining three months of the Irish presidency, indicated that there were "grounds to meet some of the parliament's concerns."

However, she warned that the package agreed by government leaders was a "solid outcome… at the limit of what was possible."

In a swift riposte, Lamassoure insisted that MEPs would not be browbeaten by ministers.

"We're not going to drag this out but if we can't reach an agreement we'll wait until the European elections," he said.

The upcoming negotiations will also look at legislation, including reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which is dependent on funding levels in the MFF.

Meanwhile, the parliament's President, Martin Schulz, a German centre-left MEP, told reporters that parliament "would not negotiate on money" but wanted to "improve the structure" of the budget.

He noted parliament would be a "serious partner" in talks expected to be "hard and tough."

He added that the EU should not go "in the direction of becoming a deficit union".

That said, by accepting the headline budget figures agreed by member states, the Parliament's position is widely seen as a setback to Schultz who had indicated that MEPs would demand additional funds for the budget.

MEPs also rejected Schultz' plan to hold a secret vote on the budget.

An amendment tabled by the conservative ECR group for an open ballot was backed by 553 MEPs, with only eight MEPs supporting a secret vote.

Schulz issues ultimatum on EU budget

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz said Thursday that MEPs will only open negotiations on the next long-term budget once member states agree how to fill the around €17 billion gap in this year's budget.

Opinion

Secret EU budget vote is unacceptable

A secret ballot on the EU budget would be unacceptable - if you are elected by the people to a political assembly, then the people must be able to hold you accountable, write Swedish MPs Karl Sigfrid and Andreas Norlen.

Negotiators strike deal on €960bn EU budget

EU negotiators are on the brink of formalising a €960bn deal on the next seven year EU budget, after a tentative deal on Wednesday. But key MEPs are already saying the deal is insufficient.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us