Commission plans ‘anti-crisis’ 6.8% EU budget increase

26 Apr 12
A proposed 6.8% increase in the European Union budget next year will contribute directly to jobs and growth, the European Commission said yesterday.

By Nick Mann | 26 April 2012

A proposed 6.8% increase in the European Union budget next year will contribute directly to jobs and growth, the European Commission said yesterday.

Under the draft 2013 budget, EU spending will increase from €129.1bn this year to €137.9bn.

Of this, €62.5bn would be devoted to ‘job friendly growth’, the commission said. The biggest increases are proposed for research programmes (up by 28.1% to €9bn) and the competitiveness and innovation programme (up by 48.8% to €546.4m).

Budget and financial programming commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said this focus on investment meant the budget would act as an ‘anti-crisis’ package. ‘We will not restore growth by cuts only; Europe needs to invest wisely for its own future starting today. That is what the EU budget is for, that is what our draft budget for 2013 is about,’ he said.

The relatively big increase was needed to fund the higher-than-normal number of EU-funded projects expected to reach completion in 2013, and to address the shortfall created by tighter budgets in previous years, he added.

However, the commission said the budget also had a ‘strong emphasis’ on savings and cost efficiency.Future expenditure – known as commitments – would be increased in line with inflation by 2%, from €147.2bn to €150.9bn, amounting to a freeze.

The administrative budget would be increased by just over 1% and EU staffing levels would be cut by 1%. The commission aims for a 5% reduction in staff over five years.

MEPs gave a mixed response to the proposals. Italian MEP Giovanni La Via, from the centre-Right Il Popolo della Libertàsaid the commitments budget should be increased by more than 2%. ‘To emerge from the crisis I am convinced we need “more Europe’ and not “less Europe”. Therefore, I am not happy. We need a stronger commitment to find ways to create growth and jobs, which – after all – are the priorities agreed by all three European institutions.’

But UK Labour MEP Derek Vaughan said EU institutions needed to do their bit to save money. ‘That is why I am insisting on a freeze or even a cut in real terms for the European Parliament's budget. In these challenging economic times, institutions need to show budgetary self-restraint and work out where savings can be made,’ he said.

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