Figures detailing 2015 budget funding for the EU’s priority growth and jobs policies, education - including the EU's Erasmus+ student mobility programme - and its humanitarian and support work in war-stricken and neighbouring zones were approved by Budgets Committee MEPs on Tuesday. These figures will be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole at the October plenary session.
By reversing the Council’s €522 million cut in commitments and €2.1 billion in payments, and even adding funds to the Commission’s original proposal in key priority areas, the Budgets Committee arrives at a sum available for commitments in 2015 of €146.3 billion and actual payments amounting to €146.4 billion.
An investment tool
"Priority programmes to stimulate growth, enhance competitiveness and foster job creation were backed by the European Council itself. Yet EU member states have failed to back up their commitment with sufficient funding. The EU budget is an investment tool which can provide life-saving resources to small firms, NGOs, and local authorities", said Eider Gardiazábal Rubial (S&D, ES), who is in charge of steering the bulk of the budget through Parliament.
SMEs, research, education
The committee not only reversed all the cuts made by the Council of Ministers in the 2015 budget as proposed by the European Commission, but also recommended adding €190.5 million more for small and medium-sized enterprises, research, and education, including €24 million more for the Erasmus+ programme. Part of this amount will be used to develop the EU's broadband and energy networks.
Foreign policy, financial supervision
To enable the EU fulfil its international responsibilities, the committee added €400 million to the sum requested by the Commission for humanitarian aid; e.g. in Syria, neighbourhood policies (Ukraine) and a UN-run support programme in Palestine.
It also added €6.1 million to the sum earmarked by the Commission and the Council for the EU financial oversight agencies: the European Banking authority (EBA), the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).
Farmers and fishermen hit by the Russia’s embargo on their exports should receive €30 million and €5 million more respectively, and the EU’s aid fund for its most deprived citizens should get €16.7 million more, recommended the committee.
More funds to settle bills
Finally, the committee reversed Council cuts in funding available for settling invoices, adding €4 billion to the Commission proposal so as to ensure that bills from closing programmes are paid and prevent any serious payment shortfalls. To avoid rolling over this year’s debt to 2015, the committee emphasized that additional payment needs for 2014 must be settled before next year’s budget can be agreed.
Parliament as a whole votes its position on 22 October. Three weeks of conciliation talks with the Council start on 28 October with the aim of reaching a Council/Parliament deal in time for next year's budget to be voted by Parliament on 26 November and signed by its President.