Parliament adopted on Wednesday the estimates for its 2012 budget, a figure of €1.725 billion. This represents an increase of 2.3% over 2011, as compared to the current EU-27 inflation rate of 2.8%. The estimates will now be sent to the European Commission, which will present proposals for the overall EU budget in two weeks time.
"We said in the guidelines that the increase should be around inflation, now we are far below inflation" said José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT), who led Parliament's work on the guidelines. "But also in implementing the budget in 2012 ... we want all the expenses to be justified and we want the variable expenses to be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. Thus, we could also make savings in execution [of the budget]", he added. The resolution drafted by Mr Fernandes was approved by the House today by 479 votes to 176, with 23 abstentions.
Parliament reduced by €13.7 million the proposed figures regarding funding for political parties and foundations, information campaigns, IT, maintenance of buildings and the number of posts.
MEPs expect further savings to be made by cutting expenditure on the hiring of external experts and other services to 2010 levels and as a result of the modernisation and rationalisation of the EP's administration. They also call for cuts in travel expenditure and the use of water, electricity and paper.
Parliament also wants a long-term review of the EP budget, to identify potential savings. Regarding Parliament's security, MEPs put €3 million of the budget in a reserve, to be released only when the administration has presented proposals for improvements and cost plans.
Provisions for 18 new MEPs, a direct result of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, and costs relating to Croatia's EU accession preparations, have been postponed until the final decisions are taken.
The other EU institutions have also submitted budget estimates to the European Commission, which will present its draft 2012 budget for the whole EU on 20 April. The European Parliament and the Council of Minister will then examine the draft budget, adopt their amendments and finally agree on the budget, probably in November this year.