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23rd Jan 2022

MEPs want budget increase for 2012

  • Negotiations on the 2012 budget are likely to drag on (Photo: ansik)

Members of the European Parliament's budget committee on Wednesday adopted their position on the 2012 EU budget, asking for a 4.2 percent increase compared to last year, a demand likely to be whittled down in upcoming negotiations with member states.

MEPs are seeking to restore the draft budget proposed by the EU commission (€132.7 billion) which was cut by member states in July to €129 billion.

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Key changes include increased spending on Palestine, maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean, managing refugee flows, funding for vegetable producers and development aid for Asia and South America and EU 2020 growth-strategy-related programmes such as life-long learning.

Italian Social-Democrat MEP Francesca Balzani, who is drafting the Parliament's position, said that the EU growth strategy should not fall victim to the current austerity climate, since investments in smart, sustainable and inclusive growth are needed to help Europe out of the crisis. The committee followed her proposals to add money - approximately €30 million - to budget lines directly related to the EU 2020 Agenda.

MEPs also restored cuts sought by member states in the area of regional policy. They also disagreed with a proposal to allocate €2.2 billion from the research envelope to a nuclear fusion project in France (Iter) instead of fresh money.

Cuts on the EU refugee fund to the tune of €45 million should also be scrapped, say MEPs, who want the budget for the EU border agency Frontex to be beefed up by €25 million, money they say might be needed for maritime border controls in the Mediterranean and for stepping up surveillance on the Greek-Turkish border.

MEPs agreed to approve an increase of €100 million in aid to Palestine and €27 million for the development co-operation instrument for Asia and Latin America. They also added €3 million for election observation missions and €3 million for the Turkish Cypriot Community. To fund this, MEPs cut other lines such as those funding the EU police mission in Afghanistan.

Accommodating 18 extra MEPs as a result of the Lisbon Treaty and parliamentary observers from Croatia in preparation of the country's EU membership in 2013 are also included in the draft bill.

A final version with all the figures will be voted on next week in the budgetary committee before being adopted by the entire Parliament on 26 October. Negotiations with member states will then kick off, with the best case scenario having them wrapped up by the end of November.

Conservatives in the parliament criticised the committee draft. Although a small parliamentary group, the European Conservatives and Reformists dominated by the British Tories give a flavour of the upcoming showdown with member states.

"The European Parliament is once again showing itself to be out of touch with the real world. National governments are asking for budgetary restraint from the EU, yet MEPs have once again voted for more money for their pet projects," Czech MEP Lajos Borokos said.

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