EU budget passes last hurdles

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The European Parliament’s budget committee approved yesterday (14 November) the EU’s 2014-2020 budget, opening the way for a vote in plenary next week so that it can enter into force on 1 January 2014.

The budget committee approved by 28 votes to 5 the package, which included the long-term budget, the so-called multi-annual financial framework (MFF), which was agreed in principle last June, and the deal reached in the night of Monday to Tuesday on the amending budget for 2013 and the budget for 2014, the first year of MFF (see background).

This opens the door to a vote in plenary on the MFF and an accompanying inter-institutional agreement on 19 November, while the 2014 budget will be voted on 20 November. A majority of half of the Parliament’s constituent members plus one is required. All this indicates that the Union’s budget is on track to enter into force on time next January.

The deal reached includes setting up a high-level working group on ways to modernize the EU’s “own resources” income and concluding negotiations on all the legal bases for the various EU programmes.

Parliament happy

The European Parliament said in a statement that its key priorities were secured in the June MFF agreement, including the flexibility to move unpaid funds (payment appropriations) between years and broad flexibility to move commitment appropriations, both between years and between categories of expenditure.

This flexibility is needed to ensure that every EU budget euro is used where it is most needed, deemed especially important during the economic crisis.

Another key achievement for the Parliament was to insert a "revision clause" in the MFF, which will give the next Parliament and Commission a say on amending priorities and means of payment, if needed.

Belgian MEP Jean-Luc Dehaene, who negotiated with the Council on behalf of the European Parliament’s centre-right EPP group, said that MEPs had turned this financial framework “into a forward-looking investment fund for growth and jobs that puts the money where it is most needed”.

“Further delaying the vote would be irresponsible political behaviour as it would endanger the continuity of many EU-funded programmes,” Dehaene said.

MEP Ivailo Kalfin (Bulgaria), the S&D's representative in trilogue budget talks, said that the vote in the budget committee was “a happy moment” for him.

“I can already say with a reasonable degree of certainty that EU funding will be available on time to the member countries from 1 January”, he said.

Timeline: 
  • 19 Nov.:  Parliament votes in Plenary the 2014-2020 budget;
  • 20 Nov.: Parliament votes in Plenary the 2014 budget;
  • 1 Jan. 2014: MFF enters into force
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