Budgets Committee votes urgent €2.7 billion amending budget to avert 'shutdown'
MEPs approved €2.7 billion in additional EU funding on Tuesday evening during an extraordinary meeting of Parliament's Budgets Committee. The amending budget (N° 6) is needed because revenue from import duties collected at the EU's external borders is far lower than was forecast by Eurostat (and endorsed by the EU member states) and thus had to be replaced by a higher GNI contribution.
The last-minute meeting was convened following an alarming phone call from Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Parliament's President Martin Schulz on Monday morning. Mr Barroso warned that the Commission would no longer be able to pay legitimate bills from November onwards if the additional budget did not come through, Mr Schulz explained at Monday's opening session of the plenary week. The Council approved the request for urgent additional funding on that very evening.
Budgets Committee Members today posed many questions prior to the vote. "Why do we learn only on Monday that the Commission is on the brink of a shutdown?", several MEPs asked Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski.
Mr Lewandowski in turn blamed a number of countries for "continuous under budgeting". He said "Some of them take a pleasure in always being against and this is really causing the problem we see ourselves confronted with". Asked how bad the situation really is, Mr Lewandowski replied that the Commission had stopped signing new contracts and that even with the additional €2.7 billion there would be a shortage in 2013.
Parliament will vote its position on the 2014 budget on Wednesday, but as long as the budgetary shortfalls identified earlier in 2013 are not remedied, this will negatively affect the 2014 budget negotiations and progress on the long-term budget for 2014-2020 (Multi-annual Financial Framework), which still needs to be approved in Parliament.