Council cuts in EU 2016 budget funding for refugees and agencies dealing with migrants were reversed by Budgets Committee MEPs in votes on Monday and Tuesday. MEPs also added funding for youth employment programmes, the Erasmus + student mobility programme and for research, transport and energy networks.
The committee proposed a budget of €157.4 billion in commitments and €146.5 billion in payments. It voted to reverse all the Council cuts in the European Commission’s initial proposal. The Council had reduced the €153.8 billion commitments proposal by €564 million, and the €143.5 billion payments proposal by 1.42 billion.
“Our amendments enable the budget to face up to the challenges posed by the refugee crisis, beef up programmes in employment, and help dairy farmers. We proposed €1.2 billion for migration funds, programmes and agencies. We want the Youth Employment Initiative to continue and, to deliver on past promises, we also proposed extra funds for Horizon 2020. We devoted €500 million for dairy farmers – it remains to be seen whether Council will stand by this during the negotiations”, said lead budget rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT) in his closing remarks after the vote.
MEPs added a total of €1.2 billion, under various budget headings, to help EU agencies to manage the arrival and transfer of the unprecedented inflow of refugees and migrants. It also added funds to manage the root causes of the migration wave but also to help third countries like Ukraine.
Enterprise and youth
To further Parliament’s aim of helping enterprises and fostering entrepreneurship, MEPs added €16.5 million to the amounts originally proposed by the Commission for the EU’s COSME programme for small and medium sized firms. The committee also added €473 million in credits for future programmes for the Youth Employment initiative and €14 million extra for the student mobility programme Erasmus+.
Research, networks, agriculture
The committee put back €1.3 billion into the EU R&D programme Horizon 2020 and transport and energy networks programmes. This money had been diverted to feed the investment guarantee fund behind the Juncker Plan. The committee also included an extra €500 million to help dairy farmers hit by falling prices.
Three EU financial regulatory bodies, the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority, set up in 2011 in response to the financial crisis, also got extra funds to enable them to carry out their tasks properly.
To enable the EU to pay bills falling due in 2016, MEPs reversed all Council cuts in the draft budget, assuming that figures in it were necessary to execute the payment plan agreed among the institutions in May to bring the level of outstanding bills to a manageable level. To ensure that measures taken to ease Greece’s access to EU funds (as proposed by the Commission in July) do not jeopardise planned reductions in the amount of unpaid bills in 2016, the committee voted an additional €1 billion in payments for Greece.
The detailed figures resulting from the committee vote will be available shortly. A resolution will be voted at the committee’s 12-13 October meeting, then on 28 October by the Parliament as a whole. Then three weeks of “conciliation” talks with the Council, will be held 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 Strasbourg at the end of November.