Council cuts are unacceptable and inconsistent, say MEPs
The unacceptable cuts proposed by the Council to the EU budget for next year reduce funding for migration, jeopardise research and undermine the EU’s role in the world, said MEPs after the Luxembourg presidency of the Council presented the EU member states’ position on the draft EU budget for 2016 on Tuesday. The EU budget amounts to one per cent of EU gross national income (GNI).
The Council has proposed a budget of €153.2 billion in commitments and €140.00 billion in payments, reflecting cuts of €563.6 million to funds for new projects and of €1.4 billion to funds for paying incoming bills in 2016.
"The Council's cuts are unacceptable, incomprehensible and inconsistent. The Council cannot get past the national egotism of the member states. Countries that are demanding solidarity regarding the cohesion funds are unable to display a minimum of solidarity towards migration and are cutting lines that finance migration programmes. Solidarity is a two-way street," said Parliament's rapporteur for the bulk of the budget, José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT) who is mandated to lead the budget negotiations with the Council. He criticised the Council for slashing funds for assisting countries wishing to join the EU, for the neighbourhood instrument for countries like Ukraine, and for poverty reduction programmes in third countries.
Mr Gérard Deprez (ALDE, BE), rapporteur for the rest of the budget, emphasized the need for adequate funding for agencies dealing with refugees, some of whose funds have been cut by the Council. "It is regrettable that the Council has also cut the EU research program Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility for energy, telecommunications and transport," he added.
The Commission also stated its concern at the Council's budget cuts.
The Council formally approved its position on next year's budget on 4 September after informally adopting it in July. The deepest cuts to the Commission's draft figures would affect foreign policy tools, funding for neighbouring countries including Ukraine, and programmes for transport networks and research.
Parliament must state its position on the Council proposal before the 21-day Parliament-Council conciliation talks start on 29 October, so as to deliver a final budget for 2016 before the end of this year.