The European Parliament voted Wednesday to restrict its own budget for 2012, given the economic, financial and social constraints on EU Member States. MEPs undertook to seek to cut some spending and to justify the rest in detail. However, projects already under way, such as the House of European History, should not be jeopardised, the report on guidelines for the 2012 budget says.
Mr José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), who is leading the Parliament's 2012 budget preparations, underlined that this should be an "austerity budget" which stays in line with inflation. At the same time he warned that cuts must not have a negative impact on the quality on Parliament's legislative work.
Since the 2012 budget may serve as a reference for the EU's next multi-annual financial framework (MFF), Parliament takes the view that its own and other EU institutions' budgets for 2012 should seek "consolidation". However, this should not prevent investments that would result in future long-term savings, the report says.
EU enlargement-related needs are to be met either via a letter amending the budget, or via an amending budget if a decision is taken on Croatia's accession to the EU. The same goes for the budgetary implications for the 18 new MEPs following the Lisbon treaty.
Parliament intends to pursue its buildings policy, which aims to rationalise the allocation of space and achieve cost savings and economies of scale. One example is the renovation and extension of the Konrad Adenauer building, which will host all Parliament's staff in Luxemburg and make the other buildings there redundant.
The report was debated on Tuesday in the presence of Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, who welcomed the guiding principles approved by Parliament. He said that the European Commission itself aims to keep growth in administrative expenses below 1%, by cutting spending on IT, conferences, business trips and publications. The Council would also take a restrictive approach, he added. He agreed with Parliament that possible EU enlargement costs should be included in the budget only when the relevant decisions are taken.
The 2012 budget guidelines were approved with 574 votes in favour, 74 against and 29 abstentions.
Parliament's Bureau (EP President and Vice-Presidents) approved the preliminary draft estimates for the Parliament's 2012 budget on Monday. These draft estimates will be discussed in the Budgets Committee on 15 March and put to a plenary vote on 4 April.
Procedure: Budgetary procedure