11th Dec 2023

EU Parliament pushes for extra €6.3bn for 2024 budget

  • MEPs have made commitments at €195.6bn, an increase of €6.3bn compared to the EU Commission’s proposal (Photo: Unsplash)
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The EU budget needs a boost to provide "adequate" financial support to those who need it most and to respond to ongoing and future crises, MEPs agreed at Thursday's (18 October) plenary session in Strasbourg.

With 424 votes in favour, 101 against and 102 abstentions, the European Parliament set out its position for the inter-institutional negotiations to amend the EU budget for 2024 — deciding how much more money should be spent and where.

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"Our united front prioritises boosting research, innovation, and Erasmus+ scholarships, increasing funds for the Eastern Neighbourhood and responses to Russian aggression in Ukraine", centre-right MEP Siegfried Mureşan (European People's Party) said after the vote.

EU programmes focus on key green investments, re-industrialisation, social dialogue, migration or security and defence and so need to be properly funded — especially as interest rates have risen since Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, MEPs decided.

In this area, the parliament also proposed to remove all loan costs from the EU budget. "We are clear that the cost of this debt should be outside the framework of the EU budget so that it does not pose a risk to other funding programmes," Mureşan stressed.

The parliament's position was approved by a large majority, but the inter-institutional negotiations with the member states are not expected to be so smooth.

The clash with the Council of the EU will be over the flexibility and annual margins of the budget. This means that while the parliament wants more money to have some room for manoeuvre in the event of unforeseen circumstances, member states are on the opposing side.

"There is simply not enough in our ... budget 2021-2027 to face the current challenges," centre-left MEP Victor Negrescu (Socialists & Democrats) commented.

"It is important to restore funds on all lines cut by the Council. These cuts contradict the Union's commitments and priorities and are not justified", Mureşan agreed.

The centre-right MEP said parliament was now offering solutions to the "mistakes" made in the member states' proposal for next year's EU budget.

MEPs want €195.6bn, an increase of €6.3bn compared to the EU Commission's draft budget, while the council agreed on what it called a "prudent approach" of €187bn.

The EU budget is drawn up jointly by the parliament, the council and the commission, although implementation is the responsibility of the EU executive. And what MEPs are looking for in the trilogues is a reversal of the planned cuts envisioned by the EU-27.

"We need to give ourselves the resources to match our ambitions," MEP Fabienne Keller (Renew Europe) stressed.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that all these commitments depend on the revision of the multi-annual financial framework (MFF). One that would have to be in place by 1 January 2024 — and member states have yet to decide on their common position on the revision.

"Unless or until there is a meaningful revision of our broader multi-annual financial framework, we will not be able to respond to our citizens' needs," Negrescu said.

Wednesday's vote marks the start of a three-week 'conciliation' period during which both the council and the parliament must reach an agreement so that the final budget can be voted on, and signed off by the parliament's president Roberta Metsola in time for the end of the year.

"We call on the council to progress in its discussions and urgently come to the MFF negotiating table, in order to ensure that our EU budget 2024 can deliver," centre-left MEP Negrescu concluded.

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