Sunday

24th Sep 2023

Negotiators strike deal on €960bn EU budget

  • EU negotiators have brokered a deal on the bloc's spending (Photo: ecb.int)

EU negotiators are on the brink of formally concluding a €960 billion deal on the next seven year EU budget, after a tentative deal between national ministers and MEPs.

Irish deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, who led the talks in Brussels on Wednesday (19 June), told reporters that he and Alain Lamassoure, the French centre-right deputy leading the parliament team, agreed compromises on the four main EU parliament concerns.

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"It's a very good day for Europe," said Gilmore.

"This budget is not about the institutions but a robust budget for jobs to be created," he added.

In a nod to the size of the overall spending commitments, Gilmore said the funding is, in modern terms, equivalent to over times the value of the Marshall plans - US funding for post-World-War-II reconstruction in Europe.

However, the Socialists, the second largest group in the parliament, have cast doubt on the deal.

Hannes Swoboda, who heads the group, said he regretted that governments did not make a "more substantial move" towards parliament's demands.

"It is clear that there is no agreement from the European Parliament at this time," he said, adding that the Socialists need to "carefully discuss" all the elements of the deal first.

Ivailo Kalfin, the Bulgarian MEP representing the Socialist group in the talks, tweeted: "Not satisfactory to all. We cannot confirm agreement."

The agreement is now to be presented to member states.

Parliament is to vote on whether to approve the budget in July at the final Strasbourg plenary session before the summer recess.

MEPs have been strongly critical of EU leaders' decision to reduce the bloc's spending to €960 billion from the European Commission's initial proposal of over €1 trillion.

In return for accepting the lower sum, they have been insisting on mechanisms to allow funds to be rolled over between years and on flexibility on where money is spent.

Following MEP demands, there will also be a mandatory review of the longterm budget in 2016 to give MEPs in the next legislature the chance to reassess spending needs.

EU institutions will also set up a working group to assess the future of EU "own resources," such as an EU-levied tax.

EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski also welcomed Wednesday's agreement.

He said it contains "strong flexibility measures to make the fullest use of the amounts available to the EU budgets over the next years."

He added that the bloc's Solidarity Fund would be increased to make it more responsive to natural disasters, such as the flooding that swept through central Europe earlier this month.

Deal on EU budget in doubt

A tentative agreement on the EU budget has been thrown into doubt less than 12 hours after it was supposedly agreed. MEPs line up to suggest the Irish EU presidency has overplayed its hand.

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