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EU budget: Parliament urges EU member states to pay up and do a deal

MEPs were disappointed that no deal had been struck with the Council on topping up the EU’s 2014 budget and a new budget for 2015, they said in a debate on Tuesday. They urged EU member states to muster the political will to tackle the ever-growing pile of unpaid bills for 2014. Talks will resume after a new draft budget is presented on 28 November.

ˮWe cannot understand how the Council can have spent so much more time on dealing with its own problem [i.e. redistributing member states’ GNI-based contributions] than on delivering a budget for the EU as a wholeˮ, said 2014 budget rapporteur Gérard Deprez (ALDE, BE), reiterating that ˮWe have an obligation to agree on a good budget for 2014 and 2015".

MEPs again insisted on the need to establish clearly the amount of bills remaining unpaid at the end of 2014 before moving on to discuss the budget for 2015.

Pay what’s owed

ˮOur proposal is easy to understand: we have to pay what we owe. We cannot delay payments to citizens, organisations, students (..) More than €28 billion in outstanding bills is awfulˮ, said Eider Gardiazábal Rubial (S&D, ES), one of the rapporteurs for the EU's 2015 budget.

“Parliament is ready to consider any proposal to solve the problem of unpaid bills. What we need from the Council is the political will to do it", she added.

To solve the issue in the longer term, MEPs asked the Commission to present a plan gradually to reduce the sum of unpaid bills, which grew from €5 billion in 2010 to around €28 billion by the end of 2014.

Enough there for the most urgent bills

ˮNobody understands that we have the money, yet we cannot pay because member states prefer to pocket it themselvesˮ, said the other rapporteur on next year's budget, Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE), referring to the €5 billion in unexpected revenue, mostly from fines, that member states have been reluctant to use to pay the most urgent bills, which according to the Commission currently total €4.7 billion.

Council's last-day starting position “unacceptable”

Parliament’s talks with the Council this year were rendered particularly difficult by the Council’s failure to state its negotiating position until the final day of the 21-day period allowed.

ˮIn fact only half of the two-party budgetary authority workedˮ, observed Budgets Committee Chair Jean Arthuis (ALDE, FR), adding that it was “unacceptable” that member states had sent its representatives to the talks without a mandate.

Next steps

The European Commission is to present its new budget proposal on 28 November, which leaves two weeks for negotiations between the Parliament and the Council before Parliament could vote on an agreed text, at the last plenary session of the year in December. If there is no deal on the 2015 budget by 1 January 2015, the EU will have to run on “provisional twelfths”, i.e. one twelfth of the 2014 amount or that of the 2015 draft budget, whichever is lower, chapter by chapter, for each month. ˮThis would put our citizens at risk, with many more difficulties to deliver resources when neededˮ, said Budgets Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. 


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