EU leaders have urged the European Parliament to ‘be responsible’ and approve the new long-term EU budget proposal.
The plead came after European leaders struck a deal on Friday on the 7-year budget following more than 24 hours of talks.
Mirroring the austerity measures that national governments are currently undertaking, the budget has been capped at €960 billion. (The original November proposal was €972 billion.)
It is the first time in the Union’s history that an EU budget is smaller than the previous period.
“We have a balanced and growth-oriented budget for Europe for the rest of the decade. It is a budget of moderation, we simply could not ignore the extreme economic difficulties and consolidation efforts in member states. This had to be a leaner budget,” EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy said.
But the European Parliament is not happy.
Leaders of the 4 biggest political groups have already slammed the proposal.
‘960 Billion engagements and 908 billions for payments, this is a gap which is for the european parliament too high. On the other hand i take note that the council made now an offer to the european parliament’, said EP’s president Martin Schulz.
‘It’s very difficult for the Parliament to accept this proposal. The reasons are very simple: first of all they create a deficit, a deficit of more than 50 billion euro. That is unacceptable for the Parliament. You can not say that one side to the member states, that you have to solve out the problems of your public finances and on the other hands creating a deficit on the length of Europe. Secondly is they are cutting mostly on growth related expenditures : innovation, infrastructure, connecting Europe.’, ALDE’s leader Guy Verhofstadt said.
The deal appears to be a victory for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who intensely lobbied to slash EU expenditure. Looking forward to the 2015 UK elections, Cameron recently promised to offer the British people an in/out referendum on EU membership.
It remains unclear if MEPs will chose to veto the agreed EU budget by secret vote. This would reduce the chances that it could be passed.