Next year’s EU budget priorities should be to continue tackling the migration and refugee crisis, speed up slow economic recovery in the EU and find solutions for the problems of long-term and youth unemployment, members of the Committee on Budgets say, warning that there is a limited capacity of the Union budget to deal with these crises, which should be resolved also in the context of the upcoming mid-term revision of the EU’s long-term spending plan, the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework).
The Budgets Committee guidelines for the European Commission, drawn up by Jens Geier (S&D, DE), were adopted on Thursday with 25 votes in favour, 6 against and 4 abstentions, and are summarized below.
EU Budget no “adjustment variable” but vital for boosting investment to trigger speedier recovery
The economic recovery in the EU is still “below its growth potential”, say Members of the Committee on Budgets. They highlight continuing problems, such as high long-term and youth unemployment, economic disparities between European regions and countries as well as the persisting “gap between the poorest and the richest of Europeans.” Therefore, boosting investment, “including through a better coordinated increase in public and private investment with a focus on the Europe 2020 targets,” should be one of the priorities of the 2017 Budget, say MEPs.
They deplore the “duplicitous behaviour” of Member States which treat the EU Budget as an “adjustment variable subject to macro-economic conditions” instead of regarding it as having a strong added value as an investment budget which can boost growth, competitiveness and job creation in the Member States.
The EU Budget has already provided immediate response to the ongoing refugee crisis. However, this crisis has not yet been solved, Budget MEPs underline, and stress that “substantial additional financial means are required” to address it. They are deeply concerned by the low level of Member States’ contributions to the two existing crisis Trust Funds (Regional Trust Fund for Syria and the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa).
As for the €3bn Refugee Facility for Turkey, they urge the Commission to unveil how the EU contribution of €1bn should be made available within the respective ceilings of the Union budget for 2016 and 2017 budgets and note that the trust funds as well as the facility lack “the necessary accountability and democratic process”, as they are “neither inside nor outside the EU Budget”.
The budget guidelines are the first document that Parliament produces during the annual budget procedure. It sets out the line that Parliament expects the Commission to take when drawing up its budget proposal. The Multi-annual Financial Framework ceiling for 2017 is €154.397 billion in commitment appropriations.
The full Parliament votes on the guidelines at its March plenary session. The Commission is expected to present its proposal in late May. Next year's budget has to be agreed between the Council and the Parliament by the end of December this year.
In the Chair: Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR)