The European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets has voted through a draft budget totalling €161.8bn in commitments – €2.3bn more than the European Commission’s original proposal.
As for the payments, the Budgets MEPs set them at €146.1bn (the original Commission proposal was €144.8bn in payments).
MEPs also increased the Youth Employment Initiative by €366.7m in commitment appropriations, raising the total to €600m. They also fully restored the budgets of the Connecting Europe Facility, which funds infrastructure projects, and the Horizon 2020 programme, which backs research projects. Both programmes had faced cuts as part of measures to help finance the EU guarantee for the European Fund for Strategic Investments.
More specifically, funding for a series of initiatives under Horizon 2020 was increased above the original Commission proposal (€65m increase), as well as for other programmes such as Erasmus+ (€32m increase), COSME (€22.5m increase) and the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation.
As regards migration, asylum and security, the MEPs boosted the Commission’s draft budget for agencies with security-related tasks including Europol (€10m increase), the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (€30m increase) and the European Asylum Support Office (€26m increase).
For more stability in the EU’s neighbourhood, they proposed an increase of €299m on the EU’s external action, which includes the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood.
For Turkey, however, they decreased part of the pre-accession funds, to be released once Turkey has made improvements in the fields of rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom.
“The parliament’s political priorities for the 2018 Budget are growth, jobs and security,” said Rapporteur Siegfried Mureşan (EPP, RO). “This is a forward-looking budget with emphasis on support for research, innovation and youth employment. We are increasing allocations that add value to the EU economy and enhance our competitiveness globally. We reject all cuts undertaken by Council. The budget adopted by Council would not have enabled the EU to fulfil its duties and commitments.”
The whole parliament is slated to vote on its position on the draft budget for 2018 on October 25.