Member states should not make any "artificial" cuts in the EU budget for 2013 or cause unnecessary deadlock by disagreeing over calculation methods during the 2013 budget negotiations, MEPs said on Wednesday. Approving a mandate for Parliament's budget negotiations with member states, on 9 July, MEPs also underlined that the budget must focus on growth and jobs and called for a single seat for the European Parliament.
"This vote takes place at a crucial moment for today's Europe. I believe that, after the European Council summit of 28-29 June, in which the heads of state or government decided on a "Compact for Growth and Jobs", we have to ask member states to follow up these conclusions and invest the necessary resources to exit the crisis", said rapporteur Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT).
Budget negotiations in the past few years have been dominated by disagreements over how to calculate the level of payments in the budget and for this round MEPs urge member states which have doubts about the Commission's estimates to clarify them as quickly as possible, so as to avoid blocking an agreement, as happened last year.
MEPs deplore the Danish Presidency's failure to show up for a meeting held to reach a common understanding on payments. They also recall that the payment appropriations proposed by the Commission are based on the member states' own estimates of payment needs and call on the Commission to check with them that any requests for payment increases are accurate and realistic.
Parliament instructs its negotiating team, led by Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT) to protect budget means earmarked for growth and jobs and other areas where the EU budget can deliver added value, whilst acknowledging that the budget could be reduced in areas where the take-up of EU funds is being unjustifiably delayed or their absorption rates are low. MEPs believe that the EU, in the context of austerity policies underway, must show responsibility and take immediate, concrete measures to establish a single seat for Parliament.
The suggested budget for 2013 is €151 billion in commitment appropriations (i.e. +2 % compared to the 2012 budget) and €138 billion in payment appropriations (i.e. +6.8 % compared to the 2012 budget). The increase in payments is comparatively high, not only because payment levels were kept artificially low in previous years, which meant the payment of bills had to be postponed to later years, but also because spending on multiannual programmes reaches its cruising speed by the last year of the current long term budget.
Commitments and payments
For each budget line, there are two different types of budget appropriations: commitments and payments. Commitments refer to how much the EU may commit itself to spend (e.g. sign a contract or start a tender procedure) in a certain year. The payment level regulates the actual payments made for that year.
The resolution was passed with 540 votes in favour, 93 against, and 52 abstentions.
The three-way budget talks (Commission, Council and Parliament start on 9 July and will be followed by the first Council vote, scheduled for 26 July. MEPs will vote in committee in early October and in plenary on 23 October. If there is no agreement at the first reading, Council/Parliament conciliation talks will take place from 24 October to 13 November, with a view to approving the final budget at the 19-22 November plenary session.
Procedure: own-initiative preparing budget procedure