Wednesday

13th Nov 2019

EU commission proposes €141bn budget in last-minute talks

  • The commission proposed a new 2015 budget deal worth €141.3bn (Photo: Jorge Franganillo)

The European Commission has presented revised spending plans in a bid to broker an 11th-hour deal between MEPs and ministers on the bloc’s 2015 budget.

The new draft budget announced on Friday (28 November) by the EU executive foresees €145.2 billion in commitments and €141.3 billion in payments, slightly lower than the commission’s original proposal, but still a 0.7 percent increase on spending in 2014.

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In a statement, budget commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said the new plan is a “sound basis for the renewal of negotiations”.

Trialogue talks between the institutions will begin next week, as the EU faces a race against time to secure agreement.

Last minute negotiations on EU budgetary plans have become an annual fixture in the weeks before Christmas.

Failure to secure a deal by 17 December – the final day on which MEPs will be able to sign off on the budget at next month’s plenary session in Strasbourg - would force the EU to operate under the system of the “provisional 12th”.

According to this rule, the bloc’s spending would by funded on a monthly basis based on the 2014 budget, adjusted for inflation, or for the 2015 commission draft proposal if it is lower.

Earlier this month, a three week "conciliation" period of intensive discussions between parliament representatives and ministers broke off without agreement.

The two institutions were about €6 billion apart when talks ended.

Governments want to limit spending at €140 billion, while MEPs are demanding €146.4 billion, over €4 billion more than the €142.1 billion originally proposed by the commission.

MEPs have also criticised the growing backlog of unpaid bills which, they say, governments agreed to pay, but now do not want to fork out.

In a debate in Strasbourg this week, deputies also expressed frustration at governments’ refusal to use the €4.7 billion collected in assorted EU fines this year to cover part of the unpaid bills.

Deputies say the sum total of outstanding bills has grown from €5 billion in 2010 to €28 billion by the end of 2014, and have conditioned their support for the 2015 spending plans on a parallel deal on the missing money.

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Britain and the Netherlands no longer have a problem with paying their EU top-ups, but EU budget talks are stuck on how to settle a €28bn lag of unpaid bills.

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