29th Mar 2023

Parliament approves EU spending plan

The European Parliament has approved the EU's spending plan for 2007 - 2013 following months of protracted negotiations.

Under the agreement, the bloc's overall budget is up by €4 billion, when compared to what EU leaders agreed in December.

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MEPs on Wednesday (17 May) supported the compromise deal struck last month between member states, the European commission and a parliamentary delegation, by a majority of 440, with 190 deputies voting against and 15 abstentions.

"Europe will cost each citizen 26 cents a day which certainly is not a lot," parliament president Josep Borrel said after the vote.

Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schussel hailed the decision, saying it was the last step in overcoming the budgetary crisis, which started when EU leaders had a public fight over future EU spending at a summit last June.

"The European Parliament has showed its teeth and strength in the negotiations but also its sense of moderation," Mr Schussel said.

Despite the strong support for the final package, several MEPs used the last minute debate before the vote to express their disappointment over what they considered to be too low a budget.

German centre-right MEP Reimer Boge said the agreement clearly represented "less than what we had wanted," pointing out that some areas - such as the environmental programme, Natura, or rural development would remain under-financed.

However, he added that the parliament had achieved a boost spending on activities close to citizens.

Under the deal, member states gave €2 billion of "new money" on top of the €862.4 billion agreed in December, while another €2 billion was shuffled around within the accounts system to raise funds for MEP-favoured policies.

Chancellor Schussel stressed that the new EU budget would allow 100,000 more students to take part in the union's Erasmus programmes and study abroad.

Education was one of the key areas to benefit from the last minute budgetary talks, along with research, small businesses and the Trans-European Networks infrastructure programme.

EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite praised MEPs for their pressure on member states.

"The union will have at its disposal the funds necessary to secure the development of an enlarged Europe and to guarantee that new member states will become full participants of all EU policies," she said.

As part of the deal, parliamentarians were promised that they would be consulted when the EU reviews its budget in 2009.

The clause on the review was included in the December deal due following pressure by the UK, which argued that the bloc's budget is out of outmoded, particularly concerning its farm payouts.

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