News in Brief, BB200605
EU budget: A deal is done - €4 billion more. The deal comes with some dissatisfaction as it falls €8billion short of European Parliament demands
On 4 April, the MEPs secured an extra 4 billion euro deal with the Council over the EU's long term budget 2007-2013. The total EU budget would then reach 864 billion euros which corresponds to 1.05% of the community GNI. In the last days of the UK Presidency, the European Council reached laboriously after hours of petty negotiations an agreement on an overall figure of 860 billion euros for the EU's long-term budget 2007-2013. This agreement was also a far cry from the original proposal of more than €1,000bn advocated by the European Commission.
The European Parliament threatened to vote down the summit deal and demanded an extra 12 billion euros. In a resolution of the 18 January approved by 541 MEPs, the European Parliament rejected categorically the deal struck by the Member States a month earlier. To avoid any potential blockades of the Union over the budget, potentially damaging for the its image, a series of trilogue meetings between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission were held during the first months of 2006. Mid-February, President Barroso promised a deal in the next three months. On 4 April, a deal was reached.
MEPs said they had agreed to lift some of their demands for a stronger voice in return during the 2008-09 budgetary review as promised during the December deal. Janusz Lewandowski (MEP EPP, Poland), chairman of the parliament's budgetary committee and negotiating team for the EP said “negotiations are an opportunity to establish and expand parliamentary powers.''.
However, the parliament's determination to play a stronger role and assert its budgetary powers threatened to delay further an agreement, which in turn could have undermined the chances of meeting the EU's pledges to boost competitiveness and growth, under the so-called Lisbon agenda.
This agreement secured an extra 4 billion euros and an additional 2,5 billion euros in the European Investment Bank funds for reaching the Lisbon objectives. Member States will be obliged to take greater responsibility to improve control mechanisms for projects for which Community funds are jointly managed.
Outcome of the trilogue 04-04-06
Proposals for increase
Sub-Heading 1a - Competitiveness for growth and employment
Trans-European Networks (TENs)
Life Long Learning (Erasmus - Leonardo)
7th Research framework programme
Competitiveness and innovation (CIP)
Social Policy Agenda (Progress)
Sub-Heading 1b - Cohesion for growth and employment
Structural Funds (Territorial co-operation)
Heading 2 - Preservation and management of natural resources
Reserve for future actions (Life + and Natura 2000)
Sub-Heading 3b-Citizenship (Youth, Culture, Health & Consumers)
Health & consumer protection
European Culture and citizenship (Culture, Youth, Citizens for Europe)
Heading 4 –
The EU as a global partner
European Neighbourhood & Partnership Instrument (ENPI)
Source: European Parliament – April 2006
The Austrian Presidency remains confident that the extra budget requested from the Member States will be agreed with no major difficulty by the MS during the next Council meeting. "If I was not optimistic and pretty sure that the member states will accept, then I would not have presented the outcome of these negotiations in public.", said Austria's finance minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, who chaired the trilogue talks on behalf on the Presidency. In his compromise, an extra 300 million euros will be allocated to the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) bringing the total FP7 budget to little over 48 billion euro. However, no final figure for FP7 budget nor its break down are yet available in any official document, as the approval procedure is currently underway. After Council's approval, the budget needs to be voted in the Parliament plenary (mid-May 2006).
EWEA welcomes this agreement over the EU financial perspectives but would have liked to see a greater commitment in term of budget for the FP7. EWEA hopes that this additional budget would provide enough money for the research and development that our energy systems needs and would result in concrete actions for the Wind Energy Technology Platform proposed by the European wind energy sector. That would ensure further technology development and further cost reductions.