Essential investment in education, social inclusion, poverty reduction and a knowledge-based society must go ahead without delay, said the European Parliament on Thursday in its first formal response to the Commission's draft budget for 2012.
Parliament was voting on the mandate for the MEPs who will represent it in the first round of budget negotiations with the Council on 11 July.
No budget cuts possible without damage to key policies
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 for 2012). In the fields of R&D and cohesion policy alone, the Commission points out that payments are set to increase by over 8% in 2012.
Parliament's resolution, drafted by Francesca Balzani (S&D, IT), warns the Council against making "horizontal cuts" without assessing the EU's actual needs. It urges Member States, if they do suggest such cuts, to explain publicly which of the EU's political priorities or projects they would delay or drop altogether.
Parliament defends the proposed increase of 4.9% compared to the 2011 budget, saying it is based on the Commission's "careful and critical analysis" of payment needs and is the minimum required to honour legal commitments made in previous years.
Support for Europe 2020 strategy and for southern neighbours
The Commission estimates that 43.5% of the draft budget contributes to EU 2020, the European Union's strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Parliament sees this figure as positive but urges a more ambitious approach to funding the strategy. MEPs also question whether the budget will allow the EU to cope with unforeseen events in the southern Mediterranean, especially emergencies and migration management.
The result of today's vote was: 379 in favour, 128 against and 94 abstentions. The adopted resolution will serve as Parliament's opinion for the first budget 2012 negotiation meeting (or "trilogue") between representatives of the Council, Commission and Parliament, which takes place on 11 July.
11 July - Budget trilogue
End of July - Council adopts its position
Early October - Vote in Budgets Committee on EP position on figures
25-27 October - Plenary vote on EP position
1-22 November - Conciliation Committee (if needed)
1 December - Plenary adoption of final text