MEPs demand Council starts talks on the EU's long-term budget 

MEPs are pushing for more EU funding for young people, research, job creation and the environment ©123RF/European Union–EP  

The European Commission should create a plan B to protect the recipients of EU funding, if talks on the EU’s long-term budget are further delayed, according to Parliament.

On Thursday 10 October, MEPs adopted a resolution on the EU's next long-term budget  for 2021-2027, calling on the Council to agree on its position so that a deal can be reached in a timely manner.

The Parliament has been ready to negotiate since November 2018, when it adopted its position, including concrete figures for programmes and proposals to overhaul the EU’s own resources system.

Tough talks

Budget negotiations are always tricky; the current long-term budget  took 18 months of negotiations. Therefore, the resolution calls on the Commission to create backup plans to protect people, organisations and projects beneffiting from EU funding, which would allow for the extension of the current budget in case a deal isn’t agreed in time.

“We don’t want to have a contingency plan. We don’t want a plan B, but a plan A,” said Parliament negotiator Margarida Marques, a Portuguese S&D member, during a budget committee meeting on 24 September. “But at the same time, we’re also aware that we have a certain situation on our hands right now, and if we can’t have a plan A then we’ll have to create a contingency plan so that citizens, companies and organisations receive the funds they need."

Together with Polish EPP member Jan Olbrycht, Marques is as part of Parliament's negotiating team regarding the spending side. The team also includes two MEPs dealing with own resources - namely José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, Portugal) and Valérie Hayer (Renew Europe, France) - as well as Rasmus Andresen (Greens/EFA, Germany) and Johan Van Overtveldt (ECR, Belgium), chair of the budget committee.

Fresh financing

While Hayer mentioned during the committee meeting that MEPs feel “frustrated” due to the tight timing, Fernandes and Andresen expressed worries that the Council’s final proposal will be a small budget that won’t be fit for purpose and won’t deal with the EU’s challenges for the future.

Olbrycht said negotiations could be further complicated if the new Commission proposes new initiatives, underlining that these should be financed through fresh appropriations.

Next steps

MEPs will debate and vote on the resolution on Thursday 10 October. The European Council is expected to discuss its position on the long-term budget, among other things, during a summit on 17-18 October.