The European Parliament's budget should be frozen, at least in real terms, for 2013, and scrutinized for possible further savings, MEPs agreed on Thursday.
After a debate on guidelines for establishing its own 2013 budget, MEPs agreed the budget should not exceed the rate of inflation. The resolution was approved by a show of hands.
"In times of crisis it is important that MEPs demonstrate they are playing their part and are looking to make savings. I am pleased that MEPs have recognised this in today’s vote”, said the MEP steering the EP's 2013 budget through Parliament, Derek Vaughan (S&D, UK).
MEPs' allowances and travel budgets frozen
To keep spending within the self-imposed budget limits and to identify further scope for long-term savings, members agreed to look for "overlaps and inefficiencies across budgetary lines". They also want an independent evaluation of the EP budget.
Furthermore, it was agreed that all the individual allowances for MEPs will be frozen until the end of this Parliament's term of office. All travel-related budget lines, including those for staff, will at the very least be frozen at 2012 levels. . The overall travel budget had already been cut by 5% for 2012.
A single seat
MEPs also adopted an amendment stipulating that "the real and biggest saving could be made by having a single seat for the European Parliament". They therefore want the situation be evaluated without further delay. 329 MEPs voted in favour of this amendment, 223 against, 23 abstained.
Following discussion with the Budgets Committee, the Parliament's Bureau will prepare the budget estimates for 2013, which will be forwarded to the European Commission who then consolidates these estimates in the annual draft budget. This is then submitted to Parliament and the Council, not later than 1 September.