Sunday

15th Dec 2019

EU budget a step closer after €2.7bn deal

  • Schulz (l) on Monday: Backed Barroso, amid growing ill will from the Council (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Lawmakers have moved a step closer to a deal on future EU spending, despite growing ill will among institutions.

The Lithuanian EU presidency, which is brokering the talks, said late on Monday (21 October) that EU countries agreed to give the European Commission an extra €2.7 billion for 2013.

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The European Parliament responded by calling a snap meeting of its budgetary affairs committee on Tuesday, with a view to voting through the funds on Thursday.

For his part, parliament chief Martin Schulz said he had been contacted by European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, who warned him of the need for a quick decision.

“By mid-November the commission will no longer be in a position to shoulder its financial obligations," Schulz told MEPs in his opening address to this week's session in Strasbourg.

He added that he is “bound to take it [Barroso's warning] seriously."

The commission says the budget shortfall is due to a 20 percent drop in its revenue from EU countries' customs duties.

It has tabled nine separate "amending budgets" this year totalling over €15 billion.

The €2.7 billion drama is part of wider talks on EU spending for 2013, 2014 and for the 2014-to-2020 budget.

An official from the EU Council, which represents EU member states in Brussels, said Barroso's top-ups have created "a tense atmosphere" in the EU capital.

MEPs were originally expected to vote on the 2014-to-2020 budget in Strasbourg this week.

But the vote was postponed because MEPs first want member states to approve a separate top-up request for 2013, worth €3.9 billion.

"We don't want to go to war with the parliament," the Council source said.

He noted that "time is really pressing" and that "we could be in a mess if we can't resolve this" quickly.

But he added that crisis-hit countries' chancelleries are unlikely to approve extra funds for EU activity in the current economic climate.

"The figures for the MFF [multi-annual financial framework] will not change and everybody knows this," he said.

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