2013 EU budget
Coreper green-lights 2.79% increase, research takes biggest hit
By Gaspard Sebag | Wednesday 11 July 2012
The Council of the EU wants to slice into next year’s research and foreign affairs expenditure as well as the European Social Fund (ESF) in order to limit the burden on national public finances, it emerged following the adoption of the Council’s position on the 2013 EU budget by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper), on 11 July. Formal adoption is scheduled for 24 July during the General Affairs Council.
Overall, the Council wants to reduce the Commission’s draft 2013 EU budget by €5.2 billion in payments to €132.7 billion. The increase on 2012 is limited to 2.79%, well below the 6.85% boost requested by the EU executive. Having failed to drive the increase to a level close to inflation (1.9%), the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden have signalled their intention to vote against the Council position.
In order to avoid a situation as in December 2011 where there was a shortfall in payments of around €5-6 billion, cohesion (1b) is the heading that was the most defended. It, nevertheless, underwent a cut: -€1.6 billion compared to the Commission draft but still up 8.07% compared to this year and standing at €47.38 billion. Half of the cuts affect the ESF (-€0.8 billion). The rest of the cuts were found in European Regional Development Fund (-€310 million) and the Cohesion Fund (-€459 million).
To balance out the increase in cohesion, the EU executive’s suggested 17.8% rise in payments for competitiveness (Heading 1a) had to be slimmed down to a 1.5% increase (-€1.89 billion). The biggest loser in this trimming exercise is research, shedding €1.2 billion. According to a well-informed source, several net payers - those who benefit most from research contracts - were ready to accept a nominal freeze in Heading 1a to lower the overall increase in the 2013 EU budget.
In relation to its size, Heading 4 (foreign affairs) takes a major cut: -€1.03 billion in payments compared to the Commission’s draft and -9.75% compared to this year’s budget. Various budget lines had to contribute to the reduction. On top of that, the Council got rid of the Commission’s proposed €110 million for the Emergency Aid Reserve.
From a 3.2% increase suggested by the EU executive, administrative expenditure goes up by 1.4% according to the Council’s position. Excluding the cost of European schools and pensions and the European Parliament’s budget, which the Council left intact in line with a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’, the EU’s administrative spending is frozen in nominal terms. To get to this result the Council did not accept the 1.7% increase related to the 2011 salary adjustment and applied the Commission’s proposal to reduce staff by 1% per year as from 2013 in all institutions except the offices of the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor and the recently created European External Action Service. On the other hand, all additional staff requests related to Croatia’s accession were okayed.
According to the Council’s position, commitments were cut in real terms (+1.27% to €149.78 billion).