• EU Commission proposal for EU’s 2019 budget broadly reflects Parliament’s own priorities, say MEPs  
  • Funding for SMEs not sufficient  
  • More should be done for young people, as youth unemployment “has not been adequately addressed across the EU” 

Next year’s EU budget should focus on young people, say MEPs, in a resolution voted on Thursday. Other priorities are growth, security, fighting climate change and migration.

The resolution, which sets out principles for MEPs to follow in 2019 budget negotiations with the Council, was prepared by budget rapporteur Daniele Viotti (S&D, IT) and approved by 399 votes to 146, with 87 abstentions.

This is Parliament's first response to the EU draft budget for 2019, as presented by the EU Commission on 23 May.

In the text, MEPs:

  • say that the EU’s Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) should be further strengthened, noting that youth unemployment is still higher than it was in 2007,

  • regret the small size of the increase for the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) and recall that this is a “successful programme which has far more applicants than recipients of funding”,

  • welcome proposed increases for Horizon 2020 research programmes, the Connecting Europe Facility (infrastructure investments), Erasmus+ and programmes helping to improve the security of EU citizens. However, they also say the Erasmus+ budget should be “at least doubled”,

  • believe that ensuring the security of its citizens and addressing migration and refugee challenges remain the “two top Union priorities in 2019” and deem it crucial to maintain spending in these areas “at a level that is adequate to respond to the needs of the migration and refugee crisis”, and

  • demand an increase in climate spending, to enable the EU to meet its “climate mainstreaming” target (at least 20% of the EU budget to be climate-related in 2014-2020).

Parliament adopted its priorities for the 2019 budget on 15 March 2018 (The “general guidelines for the preparation of the 2019 budget”).

Quote

Budget 2019 rapporteur Daniele Viotti (S&D, IT): “To give hope to an entire continent and especially to young people, we need to invest in our programmes – I am thinking of Horizon, the Connecting Europe Facility, Erasmus. We will not accept any cuts to these types of programmes, to the programmes that are seen as most successful by the citizens of the European Union.

If we really want a Europe that can compete with the United States and China, with the major world economies, if we want our start-ups to compete with the existing multinationals, if we want to focus on Europe 4.0, we can only do so together, investing all together. We need more Europe, not more borders.”

Next steps

The Council will present its informal position in the week of 9 July and the first three-way (“trilogue”) talks between the two arms of the budgetary authority (Parliament and Council) and the EU Commission will be held on 12 July. Talks will then resume in September, in an effort to reach an agreement before the end of the year.

Background

The draft EU budget for 2019 includes two amounts for each programme to be financed – commitments and payments. "Commitments" refers to the funding that can be agreed in contracts in a given year; "payments" to the money actually paid out. The proposed budget amounts to €166 billion in commitments (+3% over 2018) and €149 billion in payments (+3% over 2018).

Generally speaking, the EU budget is primarily an investment budget. Amounting to roughly 1% of EU GNI, and representing around 2% of all EU public spending, it aims to complement national budgets and implement priorities which all EU members have agreed upon.

About 94% of the EU budget funds real activities on the ground in EU countries and beyond. It goes to citizens, regions, cities, farmers, researchers, students, NGOs and businesses. The EU's administrative expenses account for about 6% of the total EU budget.