The European Parliament's budget for 2013 will be frozen in real terms. This was decided in Thursday's plenary vote on budget guidelines. MEPs also reiterated their demand for a single seat for Parliament and sought to prevent its money going to non-democratic parties.
Parliament's budget will increase by 1.9%, which equals EU-wide inflation. However, a further €8.5 million will be added to meet additional costs related to the arrival of Croatian MEPs. The overall EP budget for 2013 is estimated at almost €1.76 billion.
"We have managed to bring the initial estimates down by € 9.3 million, resulting in an increase limited to inflation. We have frozen members' allowances and even cut MEPs' travel costs, which were already frozen for this year. We also agreed to look for possibilities for further savings in the course of this year, on which we can decide in autumn when we vote the entire budget. I am also pleased that once again the EP has voted in favour of a single seat", said Derek Vaughan (S&D, UK), who is steering the budget proposal through Parliament.
Pointing to the substantial savings that could be made by having only one work place instead of three (Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg), MEPs called on the Council of Ministers to act on their repeated demand that Parliament should have only one seat for members and officials. They stressed that Parliament should have the right to decide its own working arrangements, which they believe is not the case at present.
No grants to non-democratic parties
MEPs also sought to ensure that the European Parliament grants no money to parties that do not fully respect the EU's founding principles and the Charter of Human Rights. They are concerned that principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are not being fully respected by all parties requesting funding of the budget for political parties and foundations.
The resolution as a whole was approved with 548 votes in favour, 69 against and 42 abstentions.
The paragraph on the single seat was approved with 429 votes in favour, 184 against and 37 abstentions.