Essential investments must be go ahead without delay to support education and social inclusion, reduce poverty and develop a knowledge-based society, said the EP Budgets Committee on Wednesday in its first formal response to the Commission's draft budget for 2012.
The committee's position, if endorsed by the full Parliament, will serve as the mandate for MEPs when they enter the first round of budget negotiations on 11 July.
Draft budget could only be cut if projects are delayed or dropped
The Commission's draft budget, unveiled on 20 April, proposed €147.435 billion in commitment appropriations and €132.738 billion in payments (1.12% and 1.01% respectively of the EU’s forecast gross national income (GNI) for 2012).
MEPs warn the Council against making "horizontal cuts" in budgets without assessing the EU's actual needs. If they do make such cuts, MEPs urge EU Member States to explain publicly and identify clearly which of the EU's political priorities or projects they would delay or drop altogether.
The Budgets Committee strongly urges the Council not to make any cuts in payments. It defends the proposed increase of 4.9% compared to the 2011 budget, saying this is based on the Commission's "careful and critical analysis" of payment needs and is the minimum required to honour legal commitments made by the EU in previous years.
Support to Europe 2020 strategy and support to southern neighbours
The Commission estimates that 43.5% of the draft budget contributes to the EU 2020 strategy. MEPs find this figure positive but not enough and therefore demand a more ambitious approach to funding the strategy.
MEPs also question whether the budget will enable the EU to cope with events in the southern Mediterranean, especially migration management and emergency situations. They regret that the Commission did not propose an increase to meet these demands.
The Budgets Committee's draft report will, if endorsed in plenary, serve as Parliament's opinion for the first budget 2012 negotiation meeting ("trilogue") between representatives from the Council, Commission and Parliament, which takes place on 11 July.
24 June - Plenary vote on mandate for the trilogue
11 July - Budget trilogue
End of July - Council adopts its position
Early October - Vote in Budgets Committee on EP position
25-27 October - Plenary vote on EP position
1-22 November - Conciliation Committee (if needed)
1 December - Plenary adoption of final text
In the chair : Alain LAMASSOURE (EPP, FR)