MEPs block EU budget cuts

29 Sep 16

MEPs have rejected all the cuts to the union’s draft 2017 budget proposed by the European Council earlier this month.


The council wanted to cut more than €120m from the European Commission’s initial proposal in areas including research, foreign aid and funds for the bloc’s poorest regions, although they accepted budget increases for migration and job creation.

Jens Geier, lead budget rapporteur on the EU’s Budget Committee, which rejected the changes, said his committee had rectified the discrepancy between the budget’s commitment to tackling migration and the council’s proposed cuts.

The committee saw cuts to foreign aid as counterproductive, as the recipient countries are often the origin of many of the migrants coming to the EU.

“[The] council and parliament agree that the EU budget should prioritise the migration crisis and boost jobs and growth, so the council is acting inconsistently by proposing further cuts to an already underfinanced budget,” he said.

“We have corrected that.”

Under the council’s proposals, 2017’s budget commitments would have been just over 1% larger than this year’s. However, the parliament is endorsing a budget that is 4.4% larger.

In terms of payments – the funds to be paid in 2017 rather than deferred to later years – the council cut the budget by over 7% on 2016.

The parliament is also proposing boosting funds to fight youth unemployment, and for infrastructure spending. Their suggestion is €4.13 more than the commission’s original proposal, bringing the total budget commitments to €161.8bn.

Earlier this month, legislators proposed the council’s cuts as “dishonest” and “unacceptable”.

The full plenary will vote on the matter on 26 October. Once the parliament has agreed its position, it will begin negotiating with the council towards a compromised budget.

The two sides need to reach an agreement by the end of November in order for the budget to come into force at the beginning of next year. 

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