Parliament approves EU’s 2014 budget and plugs 2013 payment gaps
The European Parliament approved the EU’s budget for 2014 on Wednesday. This budget is the result of the deal struck with the Council in last week’s negotiations. For payments €500 million were added to the 2014 budget, bringing the total compared to the initial Council position to €135.5 billion. Commitments were set at €142.6 billion, which is in line with the Commission’s budget proposal.
After negotiating through the night, Parliament and the Council agreed on Tuesday 12 November to remedy payments shortfalls in in the current fiscal year. This was a prerequisite for Parliament to approve the long-run budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework – MFF) for 2014-2020, because MEPs wanted to prevent the EU from starting the first year under the new MFF with a deficit. The MFF was approved yesterday.
MEPs also ensured that the EU will compensate victims of catastrophic flooding and drought in 2013 and that Parliament’s priorities for 2014 in areas such as employment, research and innovation, border management and humanitarian aid are also taken on board.
Ms Anne Jensen (ALDE, DK), who steered the 2014 budget through Parliament, described the outcome as “an austerity budget” given that it is almost 6% down on this year. “But I am glad we managed to secure more funds for growth policies for research, education and innovation and for humanitarian aid in the Middle East”, she added.
More for jobs, research, innovation and education
The Council agreed to Parliament’s demands for more money to counter skyrocketing youth unemployment across the EU. Budgets for investing in policy areas aiming to boost economic growth, such as research (Horizon 2020), the digital agenda, small- and medium sized enterprises (COSME) and education (Erasmus+) will also increase substantially as compared to the Council’s original proposal.
Border management, asylum support and humanitarian aid to refugees
Parliament also won the support of EU member states to strengthen FRONTEX, the EU’s external border management agency and the Asylum Support Office. The EUROPOL law enforcement agency will also be reinforced to cope with its new anti-cybercrime tasks.
Parliament secured more funds to meet the EU’s international obligations in the Middle East through the UN Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA) and in view of the growing numbers of Syrian refugees.
Parliament agrees to Council demands for Cyprus
Parliament in turn agreed to the member states’ wishes to increase funding for Cyprus, which was part of the rescue package when it was on the brink of default.
EU ministers approved the 2014 budget at yesterday’s General Affairs Council.
Parliament’s approval of the MFF yesterday paved the way for its final votes on individual EU programmes, many of which are being taken this week. This is the last step enabling all the new programmes to start, on time, on 1 January 2014.
The budget was approved by 494 votes to 158, with 13 abstentions.