Ahead of three-way talks with Council and Commission on the 2013 EU budget, the European Parliament issued, on 4 July, a mandate to its negotiating team. More likely than not, the Council will have decided upon a common position – at least at technical level – before the three-way talks, on 9 July. Parliamentarians are particularly irritated with the EU executive’s proposal to freeze in real terms commitment appropriations next year in order to address the problem of spiralling outstanding commitments (RAL or ‘reste à liquider’). Rapporteur Giovanni La Via (EPP, Italy) blasted such a strategy as “unacceptable”. MEPs are also concerned that the additional €360 million that is to be made available for ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) in the 2013 budget without resorting to increasing MFF ceilings was funded mainly to the detriment of the EU’s research programmes under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The Commission argued that cuts were made on account of underperformance.