EU budget 2018 finally adopted, socialists abstain

Tajani signs the 2018 budget into law. [European Parliament]

The Council and the European Parliament separately approved on Thursday (30 November) the deal reached on 18 November 2017 in the conciliation committee on the 2018 budget. Thus the budget is finally adopted, with the abstention of the S&D group in Parliament.

Märt Kivine, deputy finance minister of Estonia and chief Council negotiator for the 2018 EU budget, said that the Parliament and the Council shared the same two main priorities for the financial year 2018: to tackle migration and security, and to boost innovation, growth and employment in Europe.

“I am convinced that we have achieved a good and balanced result, allowing the Union to act and to react to the various needs”, Kivine said.

2018 budget agreed with cuts in development aid

In the early hours of Saturday (18 November), after 16 hours of negotiations, the EU member states and the European Parliament struck a deal on the EU’s budget for 2018, three days before the end of the conciliation period on 20 November at midnight.

For next year’s budget, MEPs have secured more support for unemployed young people and additional funding for SMEs, research programmes and Erasmus.

Commitment appropriations for 2018 total €160.1 billion, and payment appropriations €144.7 billion (see below).

On the heels of the Council’s formal approval of the conciliation agreement with Parliament on the 2018 budget, Parliament approved the budget by 295 votes to 154, with 197 abstentions. It was then signed into law by President Antonio Tajani.

Lead rapporteur for the 2018 budget Siegfried Muresan (EPP, Romania) stated that the budget delivers on what EU citizens expect from Europe: jobs and growth on the one hand and security on the other.

“By investing in research, infrastructure, education and SMEs, we will become more competitive and future-oriented. As for security, we have succeeded in strengthening Europol and Eurojust, so that they ensure better cooperation and coordination in fighting terrorism and organised crime across the EU”, Muresan said.

The rapporteur also stressed that Turkey will receive less from the EU budget.

“EU support to countries outside the EU does not come without strings attached: Turkey is drifting away from EU values and we have decided to reduce assistance by €105 million less than the Commission proposal,” he said.

Socialists abstain

The S&D group abstained on the budget vote. This was the first time that the group has ever not backed an annual EU budget.

Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, S&D group spokesperson for the EU budget said she doesn’t believe that a serious budget for the EU can be negotiated only within 16 hours.

“We did not even discuss the need for financing humanitarian aid or managing the refugee crisis. By abstaining, we hope to send a message to the Council: we need a serious budget that is capable of dealing with the many challenges Europe faces.”

S&D group Vice-President responsible for budget, Isabelle Thomas, added:

“We cannot accept a budget that cuts energy infrastructure, payments to farmers and refuses to increase humanitarian aid. Therefore, we have refused to back an EU budget for the first time.”

The leftist GUE/NGL group voted agaginst the budget. GUE/NGL MEP Liadh Ní Riada, the group’s budget coordinator, said that the outcome is imbalanced and does not have its priorities right.

In particular, she said that her group opposes what she called “dangerous moves currently underway by the larger member states in Europe towards building a European army”.

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