EU budget for 2017: Council calls on EP to draw the right lessons from 2016
On 19 October 2016, the Slovak Presidency of the Council called on the European Parliament to take the most recent implementation figures for 2016 into consideration when adopting its amendments to the 2017 EU budget.
"We have to face reality: the 2016 EU budget is way in excess of actual needs. We must learn from this and align the 2017 EU budget as closely as possible to the most realistic forecasts for expenditure next year", said Ivan Lesay, state secretary for finance of Slovakia and President of the Council after a trilogue-meeting with representatives of the Parliament and the Commission.
On 30 September the Commission proposed to reduce payments in the 2016 EU budget by €7.27 billion to align it more closely to the latest estimates of needs.
Outlook for 2017
The lower than expected needs in 2016 are mainly due to the fact that some of the programmes of the 2014-2020 period are not yet fully up and running. This concerns in particular the area of economic, social and territorial cohesion, where theprogrammes are unlikely to reach cruising speed even in 2017. That is why in its draft 2017 EU budget the Commission estimated the payment needs for this policy area to be more than 23% lower than in the 2016 EU budget as adopted. Even after bringing this year's budget in line with actual needs, the amounts proposed by the Commission for 2017 are still more than 10% lower than in 2016.
With regard to the 2017 EU budget the presidency is concerned that the amendments currently being discussed by the Parliament go completely into the opposite direction. The Parliament is in particular considering to increase payments and commitments for almost all policy areas way beyond the expenditure ceilings of the EU's multiannual financial framework (MFF). This neither reflects current needs nor respects the MFF agreement.
Focus on top priorities
The presidency called on the Parliament to direct the available resources towards the EU's current two top priorities. These are measures to address the migration crisis and its root causes, such as strengthening border controls, providing food, health and education to refugees stranded in Greece and Bulgaria and supporting countries of transit and origin. The other top priority is to help the EU economy to become more competitive and to create new jobs.
The presidency also invited the other EU institutions to use EU taxpayers' money in the most responsible way, which includes reducing their staff by 5% by 2017 as committed in 2013.
The presidency also recalled that the 2017 EU budget negotiations and the mid-term review of the MFF for 2014-2020 are two different exercises which should be dealt with separately.
The Parliament is expected to vote on 26 October on its amendments to the Council's position for the 2017 EU budget. On 28 October a three-week conciliation period will start which is aimed at bridging the gap between the positions of the Council and Parliament by 17 November.
The €7.27 billion reduction in the 2016 EU budget results in a payment level of €136.61 billion. This is significantly below the €146.46 billion that the Parliament asked for in last year's negotiations on the 2016 EU budget and also well below the €142.12 billion proposed by the Council at that time.
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