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Council cuts in EU 2016 budget funding for refugees and agencies dealing with migrants were reversed by Budgets Committee MEPs in votes on Monday and Tuesday. MEPs also added funding for youth employment programmes, the Erasmus + student mobility programme and for research, transport and energy networks.

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A provisional agreement on the European Union budget for 2015 and the means to settle this year’s most urgent unpaid bills was reached by negotiators for Parliament and the Council on Monday. The deal still needs to be endorsed both by the full Parliament and the Council. For payments, MEPs secured €4.8 billion more to pay bills for 2014-2015. For 2015, the negotiators agreed to a compromise of €145.3 billion in commitments and €141.2 billion in payments.

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Parliament wants to reduce the growing pile of unpaid bills, while Council’s proposal, revealed on the very last day of the budget talks, only aggravates the payment crisis, said Budgets Committee MEPs after conciliation talks between member states and the Parliament broke down on Monday night. The Commission will now present a new draft budget.

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The Budgets Committee approved the draft budget for 2015 and the top-up of the 2014 budget on Monday evening, opening the way to their adoption at the plenary session on Wednesday. The draft foresees €145.32 billion in commitments and €141.21 billion in payments for 2015, and an extra €4.25 billion to settle outstanding bills in 2014.

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A deal struck by MEPs and Council of Ministers negotiators in the small hours of Thursday morning means the architecture of the Juncker plan to unlock €315 billion public and private investments in the real economy in 2015-2017 can now be put to a European Parliament vote on 24 June and the investment programme can kick off in the summer.

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Giving the European Union a budget must take priority over redistributing resources to EU member states, said Budgets Committee MEPs on Tuesday, after a third fruitless effort to engage the Council of Ministers in budgetary negotiations within the official deadline. MEPs want the most urgent bills for 2014 to be settled before discussing the 2015 budget, but the Council has yet to agree even on the first budget top up, proposed by the European Commission as long ago as May.

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Ministers are outlining the priorities of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU to parliamentary committees, in a series of meetings.

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All of the EP’s 20 standing committees and two subcommittees held their constitutive meetings on Wednesday to elect their chair and vice-chairs.

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Plans to make it easier to move money around within the EU’s long-run budget, to help tackle urgent challenges such as the migration crisis, strengthening security, boosting growth and creating jobs, were backed by the Budgets Committee on Monday. Parliament has long fought for greater flexibility within the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), which would apply for the remainder of the 2014-2020 MFF.

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MEPs from Economic and Monetary Affairs and Budgets committees backed an extension of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in their vote on Monday evening. They stressed however that the EU investment plan should focus on riskier future oriented investments, which would not otherwise happen, preferably in economically weaker EU regions, and in a transparent way.

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The budgets committee on Tuesday demanded more funds to handle the migration and refugee crisis, help young people into jobs, and fully offset the cuts to the EU's research and transport networks programs, in a political resolution on the 2016 budget. The committee had earlier reversed all the Council's cuts to the Commission's initial proposal.

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Figures detailing 2015 budget funding for the EU’s priority growth and jobs policies, education - including the EU's Erasmus+ student mobility programme - and its humanitarian and support work in war-stricken and neighbouring zones were approved by Budgets Committee MEPs on Tuesday. These figures will be put to a vote by Parliament as a whole at the October plenary session.

       
 

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