- Parliament reversed cuts proposed by Council to the draft 2019 EU budget, with few exceptions
- Boosting funds for Erasmus+, research, infrastructure projects and migration
- EP’s negotiating team now has a strong mandate for the upcoming budget talks
MEPs set the overall EU Budget for 2019 at €166.34 billion for commitments and €149.3 billion in payments. Negotiations with the Council take place in November.
In their budgetary resolution, MEPs reaffirm their priorities: “sustainable growth, innovation, competitiveness, security, tackling root causes of refugees and migration flows, managing refugee and migration flows, the fight against climate change and the transition to sustainable energy, and a particular focus on young people.”
Youth, growth and jobs
MEPs increased the Erasmus+ programme by €362 million. They also added €346.7 million for the Youth Employment Initiative, raising the total for 2019 to €580 million to help youngsters desperately seeking a job.
They reject Council’s “unjustified €794 million cuts” to the section of the EU budget committed to boost growth and create jobs. This represents just over half of the overall proposed Council cuts, MEPs say, and note that such cuts “to programmes with the highest European added value, for example those to Horizon 2020 and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) run counter to Council’s stated political priorities”.
They therefore decided to fully restore the funding of infrastructure projects, and the Horizon 2020 programme, which backs research projects, adding €256.9 million. Both programmes had faced cuts as part of measures to help finance the EU guarantee for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Parliament further increased Horizon 2020 by another €65 million and climate-related spending under Horizon 2020, CEF and Heading 2 programmes by another €97.3 million.
Other major additions include:
- €74.7 million for security-related programmes and agencies;
- €50 million in EU support to member states affected by the African swine fever;
- €28.9 million for support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Refugee and migration crisis, cutting funds for Turkey
MEPs have bolstered certain budget lines with a clear link to the root causes of migration within the EU’s immediate and wider neighbourhood, such as the Development Cooperation Instrument (+€147,5 million), the European Neighbourhood Instrument (funds for the southern neighbourhood and Palestine, +€146 million) as well as pre-accession support for the Western Balkans (+€56.3 million). For actions to tackle migration challenges within the EU, MEPs have bolstered the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) with €33 million.
MEPs insist that the EU budget share of the second tranche of the €3bn Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT) must not exceed €1 billion, in order to keep the same ratio of the EU budget and member states contributions as for the first tranche. As €550 million were already used from the 2018 EU budget, Parliament decreased the Commission’s 2019 proposal by €1 billion, resulting in a contribution of €450 million (member states want a €2 billion contribution from the EU budget – and the Commission accordingly budgeted €1,450 million for the FRT in 2019).
As for pre-accession support to Turkey, MEPs decided not to reverse the cuts made by the Council, further decreasing part of the pre-accession funds by €66.8 million, arriving, in total, at a reduction of €213.5 million below the Commission’s proposal in funds earmarked for Turkey, due to a lack of respect for EU values.
Rapporteur Daniele Viotti (S&D, IT) said: “With this ambitious budget, we intend to tackle the great challenges for us and our continent: growth, solidarity between Member States but also solidarity with the citizens, as well as the issue of migration, which is still on top of the agenda when EU governments meet, and remains a major concern for our citizens.”
“Then there is our greatest challenge; support for younger generations, which is the main focus of this budget. In particular with the Erasmus+ programme, which is not only symbolic for our Europe but must, in the years to come, develop into a project to which all young people can adhere. And there is the Youth Guarantee, because the greatest concern for all of us is youth unemployment, which is still unacceptably high in certain Member States.”
The resolution on Parliament’s position on the EU’s budget for 2019 was approved by 389 votes to 158, with 123 abstentions.
The plenary vote kicks off 21 days of “conciliation” talks with the Council, with the aim of reaching a deal between the two institutions in time for next year’s budget to be voted on by Parliament and signed by its President on 29 November.
What are commitment and payment appropriations?
Given the need to manage multiannual actions (e.g. financing a research projects lasting 2-3 years), the EU budget distinguishes between commitment appropriations (the cost of all legal obligations contracted during the current financial year, possibly bearing consequences in the following years) and payment appropriations (money actually paid out during the current year, possibly to implement commitments entered into in previous years).