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19th Jan 2019

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EU budget: Biggest cuts and increases

  • The European Parliament has accused the Commission of providing opaque or misleading figures when it unveiled its new budget for the next seven years (Photo: European Commission)

After weeks of opacity about the European Commission's original proposal for the next long-term EU budget, the European Parliament has put together its own figures.

They show the differences between the upcoming 2021-2027 period and the previous one from 2014-2020.

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The commission has not published comparisons for the two biggest policies - agriculture and cohesion - and MEPs are concerned that the planned cuts are deeper than expected.

MEP Isabelle Thomas, in charge of the budget file in the parliament, told reporters that the commission's proposal is "a very nice story, but not a true story".

"They use sometimes current prices, sometimes constant prices, sometimes they calculate with 27 countries, sometimes with 28, sometimes put programmes that are out of the EU budget, like development aid," she said.

In a document obtained by the EUobserver, the parliament said the commission remained "unclear about which figures it was comparing".

The commission compares by using current prices, which do not exclude inflation. "This results in presenting its proposed cuts much more favourably," the parliament says in the document.

Constant prices allow comparison in real terms between two different periods - but the commission did not provide this information in its first proposal in early May.

The parliament has now highlighted the main changes in funding for agriculture, cohesion, research and the Erasmus+ programme.

According to the figures provided by the parliament, the European Solidarity Corps, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and Erasmus+ are the programs whose fundings increase the most.

Combined, however, the budget favours the migration and defence chapters, with the creation of programs such as the Integrated Border Management Fund (€8.2m), the European Defence Fund (€11.5m), and Military Mobility (€5.8m).

On the other hand, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and Europe for Citizens see the largest cuts.

Those programs are part of the "Cohesion Values" and "Natural Resources" headings, which are the main items in the EU budget, representing 65 percent of the total.

"A 45-percent cut [in the cohesion fund] is not 'technical', it's a change of policy," Jan Olbrycht, another MEP dealing with the budget, said.

The European Commission data has deducted UK expenditure from the 2014-2020 budget to compare with the new EU-27 budget.

The parliament explained that this reduction is "understandable in policy areas on pre-allocated national envelopes," such as agriculture or fisheries, where it is easier to calculate the UK's share.

However, the parliament pointed out that this method "may not be fully justified with genuine EU-wide programmes such as research, Erasmus."

The European Data Journalism Network (EDJNet) is a new platform for data-driven news on European affairs brought to you in up to 12 languages by a consortium of media and data journalists from all over Europe, which includes EUobserver.

Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures

The EU parliament's budget rapporteur complained the Commission is using numbers with a "desire to confuse". According to parliament estimates, the cohesion fund could suffer as much as a 45 percent cut.

Commission launches seven-year budget 'bargaining'

While the European Commission's post-Brexit EU budget proposal for 2021-2027 calls for a less-than-expected increase in spending, prime ministers of net payer countries have already called the starting proposal "unacceptable".

Juncker seeks budget whip on unruly states

EU officials want discretionary powers to suspend funds from states that violate treaty values, in a bold power grab amid likely clashes with Hungary and Poland.

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