Growth, solidarity and paying the bills are Parliament's 2016 budget priorities
Next year’s EU budget priorities should be to foster growth by supporting job-creation, firms and entrepreneurship; to show solidarity with countries both inside and outside the EU; and to put EU finances in order by tackling the overdue payments backlog and reforming the EU's revenue system, said Parliament in a resolution passed on Wednesday.
ˮThe EU needs to promote employment, strengthen our citizens' skills, support businesses - SMEs in particular - and encourage entrepreneurship across the EU. The 2016 budget must have a tangible positive impact on citizens’ lives," said Mr José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), the MEP steering the 2016 budget through Parliament. The guidelines were adopted by 484 votes to 188, with 36 abstentions.
The budget guidelines - which Parliament expects the Commission to follow in drawing up its budget proposal - are summarized below.
Employment, enterprises and entrepreneurship for growth
- The EU budget and the Juncker investment plan must help the EU's 20 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for 99% of business in the EU, to become the EU's chief source of job-creation once again;
- EU funds should encourage the creation of start-ups;
- “European Youth Initiative”: the Commission should explore the reasons for the initiative’s slow start in EU member states and secure its funding beyond 2015.
Internal cohesion and external solidarity
- Money spent on reducing gaps between regions, which accounts for the largest slice of the EU budget, should continue to sustain public investment in vital areas. Despite delays, regional development projects should be fully up and running by 2016;
- Solidarity should go beyond EU borders, in particular by delivering urgent humanitarian assistance and development aid to Ukraine and elsewhere;
- EU countries must share the burden fairly in handling immigration flows.
Overdue payments and own resources
- The Commission must keep its pledge to present a plan to reduce the growing backlog of unpaid bills, which had reached an unprecedented €24.7 billion at the end of 2014, despite Parliament’s repeated efforts to get Council to act.
- MEPs repeated their call for an in-depth reform of the revenue system for funding the EU budget and backed the Monti Group’s efforts.
The budget guidelines are the first document that Parliament produces during the annual budget procedure. The Multi-annual Financial Framework ceiling for 2016 is €150.217 billion in commitment appropriations.
The Commission will table its proposal in late May. Next year's budget must be agreed between the Council and Parliament by the end of December.