EU lawmakers sign off on reduced 2013 budget
MEPs gave final approval yesterday (12 December) to a €132.8 billion budget for 2013, paving the way for future talks on the long-term budget early next year.
"We have managed to avoid a budgetary crisis on top of the economic crisis," Swedish Socialist MEP Göran Färm said in a statement.
Centre-right MEP Alain Lamassoure hailed the vote as a great success for the European Parliament, which he said is satisfied with the amount.
Under the deal, EU payments next year will be limited to €132.84 billion, which represents a just-above-inflation rise of 2.9% from the original budget agreed for this year.
The Parliament also approved an extra €6 billion in spending for 2012 to bridge a spending gap in research, education and employment programmes. It means total EU spending of €135 billion for 2012, which amounts roughly 1% of the EU's GDP.
The vote paves the way to talks on the EU's long term spending plans. EU leaders were unable to reach a compromise last month on a proposed budget of around €1 trillion for 2014-2020.
EU leaders will hold further talks, possibly in February, to try to agree on the bloc's long-term funding.
The Commission will present a budget adjustment in mid-2013 because the approval budget is not enough to fulfil all the commitments agreed.
In the EU budget for 2012, coffers ran empty for programmes that include priority areas such as education, youth and research.
The Commission said it was not surprised by these developments. When the EU budget for 2012 was adopted in November 2011, Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski pointed out that the Parliament and the Council had agreed on a budget much lower than the one proposed by the Commission.
In April, the Commission defended plans to increase the bloc's spending for 2012 by 4.9%, arguing that the proposal struck a balance between austerity and the need to boost growth. The proposed 2012 budget was of €132.7 billion, but the one that was eventually adopted was €129.1 billion.
Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Janusz Lewandowski said: “I am concerned that the approved budget will in all likelihood not be sufficient to pay the incoming bills.”
“The adopted budget is €5 billion below what the Commission estimates necessary for 2013, and another €3 billion remain outstanding from amending budget 6 in 2012. This means that the pressure on the 2013 EU budget will be tremendous,” Lewandowski said.
“There is a serious risk that we will run out of funds early in the course of next year. I am concerned that by systematically cutting the Commission's estimates, the Council transforms the EU annual budget in a budget for 9 to 10 months; last year we ran out of cash to pay all the claims in November, this year was in October and next year I expect this to happen even earlier."
"Today's endorsement is an important political signal of the European Parliament's determination to ensure that the EU has all the resources needed to implement its policies properly," said MEP Giovanni La Via, who steered the 2013 budget through Parliament.
French MEP Alain Lamassoure (EPP) said the budget agreement enables programmes such as Erasmus and all major scientific research projects that were short of payments since the beginning of October to be saved from paralysis. “It also frees the emergency aid for adaptation to globalisation, which affects thousands of employees from 560 companies located in seven different countries.”
Green budgetary spokesperson Helga Trüpel said: “This agreement condemns the EU to cyclical budget crises, with shortfalls and under-budgeting given the go-ahead. The about-turn by MEPs in endorsing this agreement is a blow for sensible budgeting. With EU governments only agreeing to meet part of the shortfalls for 2012, the 2013 budget will be left to fill the resulting €3 billion gap in payments to programmes in EU member states that have already been committed to.”
"The EU has given the UK an early Christmas present in the form of a bill of €1 billion. So much for the Prime Minister's chest beating when he returned Chamberlain-like from Brussels last year with a piece of paper claiming victory on the 2012 budget with an inflationary rise of 2.02%,” said UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen.
"The EU budget process has now descended into farce. Unfortunately taxpayer's won't be laughing as they pick up the bill for this fiasco, no matter how hard the government tries to brush it under the carpet," she said.
- Feb. 2013: EU summit on EU long-term budget 2014-2020