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Parliament to vote on EU budget for 2011

The European Parliament is set to vote on the 2011 EU budget at its plenary session in Strasbourg on Wednesday, following a debate the previous day. This was decided by Parliament’s Conference of Presidents – the political group leaders and the President of the EP – on Thursday.

The 2011 budget, as submitted by the Budgets Committee to the full Parliament, includes more funding for all the priorities set by MEPs, including youth, innovation, the Middle East peace process and Palestine, Lifelong learning, the “People” research programme and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme.

Regarding the overall figures, MEPs are expected to embrace the levels proposed in the Commission’s draft budget of 26 November: €141.8 billion in commitment appropriations and €126.5 billion in payments. Parliament has always attached more importance to the level of commitments, since they determine future expenditure.

Furthermore, there is an agreement between Council, Parliament and Commission that, should additional funds be necessary to fulfil the EU’s legal obligations, there will be amending budgets during 2011, as the EU budget cannot legally have a deficit.

EP-President Jerzy Buzek commented: “The EP, in times of austerity, has shown responsibility and has accepted a modest budget. At the same time, the EP has obtained important commitments from the Council and the Commission which will help to construct more efficient EU budgets in the future. European citizens want us to work in a coherent and responsible way on the future financing of the EU. In particular, I welcome the commitment of the next four EU presidencies on Parliament’s involvement in the Multiannual Financial Framework negotiations (MFF). I am also pleased that the Commission has agreed to make declarations on the costs of non-Europe, European added value, and pilot projects on the synergies between the EU and national budget. Importantly, the Commission will launch a legislative proposal on own resources and the next MFF by June 2011. These and other hard-fought developments and the commitment of the budget rapporteurs and Chairman of the Budgets Committee ensure that the Parliament will vote on the EU budget 2011 next Wednesday”.

Aside from the 2011 budget, Parliament had a number of political demands relating to the implementation of the budgetary provisions in the Lisbon Treaty. Parliament laid down seven such demands in a budget resolution adopted at the October plenary session in Strasbourg. The main ones concerned the involvement of Parliament in the talks on the next long-term budget and on a new system of own resources. On the own resources, the European Commission will present a formal proposal by the end of June 2011, ensuring that the proposals on this issue are discussed at the same time as the future financial perspective. The involvement of Parliament in these matters is laid down in the Treaty (Art. 312.5, 324 and 311) but needed to be worked out in practice.

After almost two months of negotiations, EP negotiators have achieved an agreement with the Council’s Presidency which is backed by the other Member States. It contains a commitment by the next four EU presidencies (the governments of Hungary, Poland, Denmark and Cyprus) on the involvement of the Parliament, which has given sufficient assurances to MEPs.

Parliament also successfully argued for systematic assessments to be made of the European added value of new legislation and its funding; there will be a report on the cost of “non-Europe”; and an evaluation of the benefits of synergies between the EU and national budgets. Parliament wants in this way to ensure that EU taxpayers get the best value for money.

In addition, a compromise was reached on the new priorities stemming from the Lisbon Treaty for which no provision had yet been made in the 2011 budget. The European Commission has undertaken to examine how these new priority areas could be boosted in the budgets for 2012 and 2013.

The Conference of Presidents is pleased that the discussions on all these matters were held at the appropriate level, with the participation of Belgian Prime Minister Leterme, Commission President Barroso and many Heads of State and Government.

The issue of flexibility within the budget – to cater for unforeseen expenditure for emergencies or new EU tasks – and the financing of the ITER nuclear fusion research project will need to be resolved at a later stage since no agreement was reached between Parliament and Council. Quelle: PR © European Parliament – Bild: © stock.xchng (SXC)

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