Budget Committee MEPs reversed all the cuts proposed by the Council to the draft 2017 EU budget to meet the needs of the migration crisis and slow economic growth, in a vote on Wednesday. They also boosted funding to fight youth unemployment and increased spending on research and infrastructure projects. The full plenary will vote on 26 October on a proposed budget amounting to €161.8bn in commitments, €4.13bn more than the original Commission proposal.
MEPs expect the additional €4.13 billion to be financed in part via new appropriations to be obtained through the ongoing mid-term revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
“Council and Parliament agree that the EU budget should prioritise the migration crisis and boost jobs and growth, so the Council is acting inconsistently by proposing further cuts to an already underfinanced budget. We have corrected that”, said lead budget rapporteur Jens Geier (S&D, DE) after the vote.
Youth, growth and jobs
MEPs increased the Youth Employment Initiative by an additional €1,500 million in commitment appropriations and €500 million in payment appropriations.
They also fully restored the budgets of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which funds infrastructure projects, and the Horizon 2020 programme, which backs research projects. Both programmes had faced cuts as part of measures to help finance the EU guarantee for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI).
Other programmes which saw their budgets increase include the COSME, Progress, Marie Curie, European Research Council, Eures and Erasmus+.
Migration, asylum and security
The MEPs also boosted the Commission’s draft budget for agencies with security-related tasks including Europol (€7,568,000 increase), Eurojust (€3,307,500 increase) and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO, €5 million increase).
Budgets committee members said that funds to tackle the external dimension of the migration and refugee crises were insufficient, particularly because of cuts to programmes such as the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP). They partly restored those cuts made by the Commission and reinstated the 2016 levels for the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) Mediterranean lines and for humanitarian aid.
The committee also reinforced spending on culture, communication and citizenship by increasing funding to the MEDIA sub-programme by €10,882,000 and to Multimedia actions by €13 million, as well as to a Culture sub-programme, which saw its budget increase by €13,650,000 to support cross-border actions and promote transnational circulation and mobility of cultural and creative works.
The Committee on Budgets have approved a €600 million emergency support package for the dairy sector.
The details of the budget will be available shortly and a corresponding resolution will be voted on at the committee’s 11 October meeting. The whole Parliament will vote on its position on the Draft Budget 2017 on 26 October. This will kick off three weeks 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 by Parliament and signed by its President in December.