Sunday

23rd Apr 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Controlling the right of repeal

There was a distinct air of finality about Sir Tim Barrow's personal delivery of the Article 50 letter in Brussels – it certainly marks the end of an era.

Be fair in Brexit talks, EU tells UK

European Council chief Tusk sent draft guidelines to member states. He said the EU wants "fairness" and then warned against using security cooperation as bargaining chip.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote
  2. Le Pen-Putin friendship goes back a long way
  3. Mogherini should tell Russians their rights matter
  4. Le Pens Freunde aus dem Trump Tower
  5. Sexe et mensonges: l'information russe sur l'UE
  6. Report: Post-Brexit payments, ECJ jurisdiction could last years
  7. Oxford study raises alarm on 'junk' news in France
  8. Thousands to march in defence of science