Next year’s EU budget priorities should continue to be tackling the migration and refugee crisis while at the same time investing more and better to accelerate today’s slow economic recovery, MEPs say in a resolution voted on Wednesday. Parliament highlights the problems of long-term and youth unemployment and disparities in economic development across the EU. It also underlines that the refugee crisis will not be a temporary one.
MEPs warn that the EU budget has only a limited capacity to deal with current crises.
"We are preparing the fourth annual budget within the current EU’s long-term spending plan, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), and it is clear that this year, again, there will not be enough money to enable the EU to tackle all the tasks assigned to it by the member states", said rapporteur Jens Geier (S&D, DE) during the debate. "Now we have a chance to respond to the new situation and that would be the revision of the MFF, which should begin at the end of the year. I therefore appeal once again to the Council: Stop denying reality and make the EU budget crisis-proof!", he added. Mr Geier’s report was approved by 425 votes to 200, with 78 abstentions.
EU budget no “adjustment variable” but vital to trigger speedier recovery
Economic recovery in the EU is still “below its growth potential”, says the resolution. MEPs highlight continuing problems, such as high long-term and youth unemployment, economic disparities between EU regions and countries and the persistent “gap between the poorest and the richest of Europeans.” Boosting investment, “including through a better coordinated increase in public and private investment with a focus on the Europe 2020 targets”, should therefore be a 2017 budget priority, say MEPs.
MEPs deplore the “duplicitous behaviour” of member states which treat the EU budget as an “adjustment variable subject to macro-economic conditions”, rather than acknowledging its strong added value as an investment budget which can boost growth, competitiveness and job creation in the member states.
MEPs note that the EU budget has already provided an immediate response to the ongoing refugee crisis. But they stress that this crisis is far from over, and that “substantial additional financial means are required” to tackle it. They are deeply concerned at the low level of member states’ contributions to the two existing crisis Trust Funds (Regional Trust Fund for Syria and the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa) and "that in the refugee crisis solidarity is being manifested unevenly across the member states."
As for the €3bn Refugee Facility for Turkey, they urge the EU Commission to disclose how the EU contribution of €1bn should be made available within the EU budget ceilings for 2016 and 2017, pointing out that the trust funds and the facility lack “the necessary accountability and democratic process”, as they are “neither inside nor outside the EU budget.”
Note to editors
The budget guidelines are the first document that Parliament produces during the annual budget procedure. It sets out the line that Parliament expects the Commission to take when drawing up its budget proposal. The Multi-annual Financial Framework ceiling for 2017 is €154.397 billion in commitment appropriations.
The guidelines will be discussed at a three-way meeting on 14 March with the Commission and the Dutch Presidency of the Council. The Commission is expected to present its EU budget proposal for 2017 in late May. Next year's budget has to be agreed between the Council and the Parliament by the end of December this year.
Procedure: Budgetary procedure