Six billion Euros to pay bills in 2012, priority for growth and jobs in next year's budget and a strategy for dealing with payment shortfalls in 2013 – these are the main parts of the budget package formally adopted by Parliament on Wednesday.
"Today's endorsement is an important political signal of the European Parliament's determination to ensure that the EU has all the resources needed to implement its policies properly. The €6 billion agreed to partially cover 2012 payments, as well as the commitments in the 2013 budget, will guarantee investment in growth and job-creation, as will the additional funds provided by the Council in 2013, wherever there is a need. We insisted on this during the negotiations and we got it", said Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), who steered the 2013 budget through Parliament.
The package now formally endorsed by the EP includes a budget for 2013 worth €132.8 billion in payments and €150.9 billion in commitments.
This budget amounts to 0.99% of the EU's gross national income (GNI) in payments and 1.13% of EU GNI in commitments. This is less that the 2012 budget (including amending budgets 1-6), for which the percentages are 1.05% and 1.15% respectively.
The amending budget for 2012 was adopted by 514 votes to 68, with 82 abstentions. The budget for 2013 was declared adopted since no amendments were approved.
Assurances by three presidents
EP President Schulz, Commission President Barroso and Council President Christofias jointly signed three declarations, promising to add fresh money during 2013 as soon as this proves necessary to pay outstanding bills from 2012 or to cover the gap between the level of payments adopted and the estimated needs (more details below). Just before the vote, Budgets Commissioner Lewandowski and Cyprus' European Affairs Minister Mavroyiannis again confirmed this commitment.
More money to support growth and jobs
Following demands by MEPs, amounts under the competitiveness heading are increased by 4.8% overall from the 2012 level for commitments, in particular for the 7th framework programme for research (up 6.4%), trans-European networks (a 6.3% rise) and the competitiveness and innovation framework programme (a 9.6% increase). The foreign affairs budget is also bigger, with 1.9% more in commitments than in 2012, most of which is earmarked to support Palestine. For more details about the different headings, see the link on the right.
Paying the 2012 bills
The member states could only agree to pay €6 billion of the €9 billion needed to pay the outstanding bills that have to be settled before the end of this year. To ensure that the rest of the invoices are paid as soon as possible, the three institutions promise, as part of the deal, to propose (Commission) and adopt (Council and Parliament) an amending budget with the "sole purpose of covering the 2012 suspended claims" in early 2013.
Tackling expected shortfalls in 2013
As in last year's budget deal, the sum agreed for payments falls short of the Commission's estimate of the amount needed. On the basis of the commitments made by the EU - and agreed by all parties - the money set aside for 2013 will probably not be enough. All three institutions therefore committed themselves to actively monitoring the use of funds during the year and, if necessary, to proposing (Commission) and adopting (Council and Parliament) an amending budget to meet the anticipated shortfall.
Globalisation fund aid for seven countries
The deal on the amending budget for 2012 now makes it possible to formally mobilise globalisation aid for unemployed workers in seven countries: Spain, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Austria and Romania. Until agreement was reached on the extra money for 2012, these funds were blocked owing to a lack of money.
The Council formally approved the package on Thursday, 6 December.