15th Dec 2019

EU 2012 budget request sets scene for fresh battle

  • Squabbling between MEPs and EU member states last year almost left the Union without a budget (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission has asked for a 4.9 percent increase in next year's EU budget, setting the scene for a fresh game of tug-of-war between EU member states and the European Parliament.

Presenting the commission's 2012 draft proposal to journalists in Brussels on Wednesday (20 April), EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said the raise was necessary to meet already-made spending commitments, particularly in the area of EU regional policy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

He predicted the forthcoming negotiations would go more smoothly than last year's stormy battle which saw an eleventh-hour deal narrowly avoid a budget-less Union, but the UK government immediately sounded the alarm, branding the raise as "unacceptable".

"We'll be working closely with other member states to drive the hardest possible bargain," said a government spokesman.

EU member states eventually agreed to a 2.9 percent increase to the EU's budget in 2011, after the commission and parliament requested an almost six percent jump.

In December Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland signed an alliance calling for EU budgetary restraint, although British Prime Minister David Cameron's initial calls for an annual budgetary 'freeze' were quietly dropped.

Richer member states have balked at higher levels of EU spending while they opt to push through unpopular austerity measures at home, prompting grumbling among EU net recipient states such as Poland.

But the commission and MEPs argue that Europe's current economic difficulties require investments, not cutbacks, stressing that the EU budget is not running a deficit, unlike most member states.

If agreed, a 4.9 percent increase would see next year's EU budget swell to €132.7 billion in payments, with increased spending slated for most policy areas, including cohesion and regional aid, agriculture, internal affairs and for the European External Action Service (EEAS).

Lewandowski stressed however that savings were foreseen in programmes that were not delivering results, as well as when member states failed to meet EU project criteria.

The Polish politician also promised to freeze the commission's own administrative budget, hinting that EU civil servants can expect to see their benefits trimmed in a forthcoming proposal.

"I can announce that there will be a very deep revision of the status of [EU] fonctionnaires ... it will come in a proposal in June," Lewandowski said.

MEPs criticised the commission's proposal on Wednesday, but for different reasons.

Socialist MEP Francesca Balzani, who will lead parliament's negotiating team in discussions with member states, said the proposed rise was insufficient.

"There is now an alarming drop in public investment and if current trends continue, we risk hindering the future growth and economic recovery of Europe," she said in a statement.

Zahradil 'conflict of interest' probe may flounder

The European Parliament's internal body, designed to sanction MEPs for conflicts of interests, has failed to deliver any meaningful verdicts. Some are hoping a future proposal for a new independent ethics body will help hold MEPs accountable.


Zahradil 'conflict of interest' over EU-Vietnam trade deal

Right-wing Czech MEP Jan Zahradil is leading European Parliament negotiations on a trade deal with Vietnam. As rapporteur, he is supposed to be neutral but has neglected to declare his involvement in a group with ties to the Communist party.

Von der Leyen warns on EU budget cuts

The new EU Commission president will tell EU leaders next week that they need to put money behind their pledges for border protection, defence policy and fighting climate change.


Von der Leyen team voted in by MEPs - amid warnings

The first female commission president and her (almost) gender-balanced team can take office on 1 December. Despite a large majority of MEPs backing the new commission, many warned that their support was not a "blank cheque".

News in Brief

  1. EU Scream podcast wins media award
  2. Sturgeon will set out Scottish independence plan next week
  3. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  4. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  5. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  6. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  7. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  8. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.


Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU values face scrutiny This WEEK
  2. EU sighs relief after 'decisive' Johnson victory in UK
  3. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  4. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  5. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  6. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  7. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  8. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us