MEPs approved the EU's 2019 budget on 12 December, having secured more funding for research and Erasmus. Read our interview with MEP Daniele Viotti, an Italian member of the S&D group.
How would you describe the Parliament’s budget proposal for next year?
We worked on two very important issues for Europe during this period: young people and migration. We worked a lot on [research programme] Horizon, the Connecting Europe Facility [for investing in infrastructure], COSME [a programme to help small and medium-sized enterprises] and the Youth Guarantee [to help tackle youth unemployment]. We want to restore all the cuts that the Council proposed in July.
We want to challenge the Council on migration, to tackle the EU’s geopolitical challenges, to help migrants and potential migrants. We want to fight poverty and hunger and help countries in Africa and elsewhere develop their industries, economy and infrastructure. I hope the Council understands that we are addressing the concerns of many member states. If the Council asks me to make cuts, I will challenge them. This will be a major challenge during negotiations.
For once all the EU institutions propose a bigger budget for next year compared to this year. Why do you think that is?
Our programmes are expanding and more universities, SMEs and local authorities are asking for money for their projects. That’s why we need more money next year. We are in the middle of the current [long-term budget], so we are at a point where we are starting to pay out money for projects. I don’t want to end up in the same situation as in 2014, where we had a payment crisis.
The Council has proposed cuts to a number of programmes next year. Which are the worst in your eyes and what would be the consequences?
It’s not just one cut here and there. They always ask the Commission to do more in emergencies, but want to give less money every year. Their vision is of a very small Europe, which I am opposed to.
In my view the worst cuts are the ones affecting Horizon, the Connecting Europe Facility, COSME and the Youth Guarantee, because that means cutting into our future. If we want to challenge China, the US and India, we need to invest in research, energy, development. I don’t understand the reasoning behind their cuts.
According to projections, only 19.3% of the EU’s 2014-2020 budget will go to climate-related measures, which is below the 20% target. What happened?
I don’t know, but this is why we want to increase climate-related measures. We tried to allocate as much money as possible here. I don’t think we will meet the target in the budget for next year. However, in parallel we are working on the next [long-term budget], where we want to see more money allocated to fighting climate change.