Begroting 2013 door begrotingscommissie EP goedgekeurd (en)

EU Member States should "refrain from artificially deciding the level of payments for 2013 without taking account of the actual budgetary needs", said Parliament's Budgets Committee, approving the 2013 budget guidelines on Tuesday. MEPs mean to ensure that the European Commission is not placed in a position where it can no longer honour its contractual obligations, as happened in December in 2011 and will happen again in 2012, if no solution is found.

The budget guidelines approved on Tuesday with 33 votes in favor, 3 against and 3 abstentions are an early signal to the Commission and the Council about MEPs' wishes and priorities for next year's budget. The Commission is currently preparing the EU's draft budget for 2013, which will be presented in mid-April.

Stop postponing problems

Committee members are "extremely worried" about the looming shortage of payments in 2012, for which they hold the Council responsible. In December 2011, the Council refused to fund claims amounting to €10 billion, as some Member States questioned the financial data provided by the European Commission. These payments had to be postponed to 2012 and will undoubtedly lead to a shortage of funds by the end of the year.

To again postpone payments to 2013 - the last year of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) in which payments would normally increase - is considered bad financial management. "Not meeting contractual obligations and past EU commitments could lead to payments of interest on debts and loss of confidence in EU policies. A solution needs to be found as early as possible in the year", says the report, prepared by Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT).

If the Council wants to cut payments, it must spell out which priorities to drop

The report notes that the level of payments has become the main political issue within the Council in the past few budgetary procedures; even though they are merely the result of previous commitments.

MEPs want the budget to be determined on the basis of technical criteria such as implementation figures, absorption forecasts or the level of outstanding commitments.

If the Council again makes artificial cuts in payments during this year's budget procedure, "it should clearly and publicly identify and justify which of the EU's political priorities or projects it believes could be delayed or dropped altogether", say MEPs.

Focus on youth employment and SME's

Next year's EU budget should focus on youth employment and small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs), say MEPs, welcoming similar statements by the Members of the European Council on 30 January.

Promoting growth and job creation requires specific actions and enhanced budgetary efforts to support competitiveness, innovation and SMEs, which accounted for 85% of newly-created jobs between 2002 and 2010 and are seen as the backbone of  economic growth.

Budgets Committee MEPs are ready to work with Parliament's specialist committees to identify areas where actions need to be strengthened, but also possible "negative priorities".

What's next?

The budget guidelines will be put to a vote in Parliament's plenary session on 13 March.

Budget procedure in brief

The Commission prepares the draft budget and presents it in mid-April. The Council adopts its position on the draft before 1 October. Parliament has then 42 days to amend the Council's position. The Council may accept the amendments within 10 days and adopt the draft budget. Otherwise a Conciliation Committee is assigned to come up with a joint text within 21 days. If the conciliatory procedure fails, the Commission has to come up with a new draft budget.


In the chair : Alain LAMASSOURE (EPP, FR)