2013 EU budget
Council’s position ticks off MEPs
By Gaspard Sebag | Tuesday 10 July 2012
The informal agreement at Council level on the 2013 EU budget has angered MEPs. Alain Lamassoure (EPP, France), chair of the EP’s Committee on Budgets (BUDG), considers that the position taken - trimming down the Commission’s draft, in particular in Heading 1 (sustainable growth) - is in contradiction with the ‘compact for growth and jobs’ signed by EU leaders at their June summit.
Drawing blood first in the battle over the 2013 EU budget, the Council limited the payments increase to 2.79% (-€5.2 billion on the Commission’s 2013 draft budget) and commitments to 1.47%, ie below inflation. While the EU executive requested a 17.8% rise in payments for competitiveness (Heading 1a), member states consent only to a 1.5% boost, shaving off €1.89 billion. Cohesion (Heading 1b) also underwent a cut: -€1.6 billion compared to the Commission draft but still up 8.07% compared to this year.
Lamassoure admits the economic situation has worsened since the adoption of the Council’s guidelines in February yet he finds such a justification for the cuts weak. “A week after [EU leaders okayed the growth compact], the draft budget tabled by national civil servants takes the exact opposite direction,” he complains, underlining that according to his calculations research expenditure would go down by 15%.
During three-way talks, on 9 July, Lamassoure also reiterated a suggestion to organise a meeting between Parliament, Council and Commission in order to agree on a method for evaluating the payments needs in the EU budget and proposed to have a joint statement on payments. The Cyprus Presidency accepted the former and said it would float the latter idea in Council.