The FINANCIAL — Budget MEPs increased Erasmus+ funds and restored budgets for infrastructure investments, as well as Horizon 2020, the EU research programme.
As for the payments, Budgets Committee MEPs set them at €149.3 billion (the Commission’s original proposal was €148.7 billion in payments). The figures include the special instruments such as the Solidarity and Globalisation Adjustment funds and the European Commission’s administrative budget, but not the administrative budgets of the other EU institutions.
Erasmus+, research, infrastructure
MEPs increased the Erasmus+ programme by €362 million and fully restored the pre-EFSI budgets of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which funds 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). They 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 by the Committee on Budgets to the Commission’s draft budget include:
€346.7 million for the Youth Employment Initiative, raising the total for 2019 to €580 million;
€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).
MEPs have reinforced 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, Committee members 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, Committee members 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: “”Today’s vote closed the first phase of the budgetary procedure 2019. The Parliament worked hard to deliver an EU budget that is sustainable, financially sound and in line with our political priorities. Now it is time for the negotiations with the Council. As Parliament’s general rapporteur, I will be on the front line to restore essential funding, to help address the migration crisis, youth unemployment and other priorities during the conciliation phase.”
The details of the budget will be available shortly and a corresponding resolution will be voted on at the committee meeting on 8 or 9 October. The whole Parliament will vote on its position on the Draft Budget 2019 on 24 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 on by Parliament and signed by its President at the end of November.