Sustainable growth, jobs and security: MEPs adopt 2018 budget priorities
Growth and jobs, particularly for young people, must remain key EU budget priorities, along with tackling migration and climate change, MEPs say in guidelines, voted on Wednesday, for EU Commission officials preparing the EU’s draft 2018 budget. The budget “must be equipped with the tools to enable it to respond to multiple crises simultaneously” and must also address EU citizens' safety and security concerns, they add.
“I would like to propose two political priorities: number one, growth and jobs; and number two, security. (…) On growth and jobs, I propose that we invest more in infrastructure, innovation and research, that we support more SMEs, and that we invest more in entrepreneurs, especially highly innovative entrepreneurs”, said the general rapporteur for the EU Budget 2018, Siegfried Mureșan (EPP, RO).
“As for internal security, I propose that we strengthen the agencies of the Union which have responsibilities in the area of justice and home affairs: Frontex, EASO, Europol and Eurojust. (…) As for the external dimension, I would like us to stand side-by-side with the eastern neighbourhood of the Union and with those countries which have embarked on a pro-European path (…) We also need to stand by the countries in our southern neighbourhood, Northern Africa and the Middle East. These are countries of origin or countries of transit for refugees, and it is for us much cheaper, it is politically easier and it is safer for the Union to support refugees in their countries of origin”, Mr Mureșan added.
You can download Mr Mureșan’s full speech here.
His report on the guidelines for the preparation of the EU budget 2018 was approved by 445 votes to 134, with 101 abstentions.
Youth Unemployment Initiative, Erasmus+, Interrail pass
MEPs underline that youth unemployment is a key EU concern and that "it puts at risk an entire generation of young Europeans". They therefore call for adequate funding to continue the Youth Employment Initiative and increased financial support for the Erasmus+ student exchange programme. They also “take positive note” of the “18th birthday Interrail pass for Europe” initiative, stressing that it should be socially inclusive and "not be financed at the expense of other successful EU programmes."
Migratory and refugee crisis
Parliament stresses that the EU budget "has proven to be insufficient in dealing with the effects of the migratory and refugee crisis and corresponding humanitarian challenges" and insists that a sustainable solution must be found to this issue. However, this should not take precedence over "other important Union policies, for example in the field of jobs and growth."
MEPs call for enhanced support for the EU agencies and funds addressing the effects of the refugee crisis and underline "the importance of the principle of burden-sharing among member states in financing the efforts needed to adequately provide for refugees". More should be invested to strengthen the EU's borders, MEPs add, and challenges in the security area, such as combatting international terrorism, must be addressed, as well as radicalisation and serious and organized crime.
The EU Commission is expected to present its proposal for the 2018 draft budget in May. Next year's budget has to be agreed between the Council and the Parliament by the end of the year.
The budget guidelines are the first document that Parliament produces in the annual budget procedure. It sets out the line that Parliament expects the Commission to take when drawing up its budget proposals.