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EU budget 2013: avoid payments shortfalls and invest in growth and jobs

To enable the EU to pay its bills in 2013, Council cuts in the European Commission's budget proposal must be reversed, said Parliament in a vote on Tuesday. Reinstating funding for payments in 2013 would help to protect popular EU programmes, such as Erasmus Mundus and the Social Fund, against funding shortfalls like those that disrupted them this year.

Parliament reversed the €1.9 billion cuts proposed by the Council in July in areas that MEPs believe are vital to boost the economy, such as research, entrepreneurship and employment measures.

Programmes hit by these cuts include Erasmus Mundus, Lifelong Learning and the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development, whose funding almost ran out in 2012 and for which the Commission had to present an additional corrective budget yesterday. But the Council's proposed cuts also threaten the newly-established European Banking, Securities and Markets, and Pensions authorities.

Mr Giovanni La Via (EPP; IT), who is steering the lion's share of the budget through Parliament wants to avoid budget shortfalls in 2013. "We saw this coming and we want to avoid further patchwork in next year's budget. The last thing companies, researchers, students and other beneficiaries of EU programmes need is insecurity about the Commission honouring its legal commitments. We hope the member states' finance ministers recognise this and follow up on the growth pact agreed by their heads of state and government at the summit in June."

The resolution was passed with 492 votes in favour, 123 against, and 82 abstentions.

Support for regional policy, agriculture and the Middle East peace process

For regional policy, MEPs voted to restore €1.6 billion cut by the Council, and also to reverse most of its proposed cuts in agriculture.

For Palestine and the Middle East Peace process, MEPs voted not only to reinstate the €200 million foreseen in the Commission's draft budget, but to add €100 million to this heading.

Administration: doing more with less

MEPs agreed on further cuts of €8.9 million to Parliament's own budget, as compared to the initial proposal. This would effectively increase Parliament's budget by 1.9% as compared to 2012, to match estimated inflation. However, since this budget includes the extra costs to Parliament of Croatia's EU accession, it would be reduced in real terms.

Next steps

Since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, there is only one reading of the Commission's draft budget, immediately followed by 21 days of conciliation between the Council and Parliament. Conciliation will start on the evening of Friday 26 October, with a closing meeting on Friday 9 November. If an agreement is reached, it will be put to a final plenary vote at the November session.

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