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EU Budget 2016 debate gets under way

Posted by Nick Prag at 12 March 2015, 18:31 CET |

The EU got down to preparing plans for next year's budget this week, with the European Parliament targeting growth, solidarity and paying the bills as priorities for the EU Budget 2016.

In a resolution passed at their plenary session on Wednesday, MEPs said the priorities for the new budget should be to foster growth by supporting job-creation, firms and entrepreneurship; to show solidarity with countries both inside and outside the EU; and to put the Union's finances in order by tackling the overdue payments backlog and reforming the EU's revenue system.

Most agreed that the key priority needs to be to promote employment and support businesses - especially smaller businesses (SMEs) - and to encourage entrepreneurship across the EU.

In their resolution, MEPs stressed that the 2016 budget and the big Juncker investment plan should prioritise help for Europe's 20 million SMEs - which account for 99% of business in the EU - to once again become the EU's chief source of job-creation.

EU funds should also encourage the creation of start-ups; and the Commission should put great effort into exploring reasons for the European Youth Initiative's slow start in Member States, and secure its funding beyond 2015.

On internal cohesion and external solidarity, MEPs declared that money spent on reducing gaps between regions - which accounts for the largest slice of the EU budget - should continue to sustain public investment in vital areas.

Despite delays, MEPs says they want to see regional development projects fully up and running by 2016; and for solidarity to go beyond EU borders, in particular through urgent humanitarian assistance and development aid to Ukraine and elsewhere. On immigration, they said EU countries need to share the burden of handling immigration flows fairly.

Finally, MEPs repeated their call for in-depth reform of the revenue system for funding the EU budget; and urged the Commission to keep its pledge to present a plan to reduce the growing backlog of unpaid bills - which reached an unprecedented EUR 24.7 billion by end 2014.

The 2016 budget guidelines are the first document that Parliament produces during the annual budget procedure. They are important because the Commission is expected to follow Parliament's budget guidelines in drawing up its own budget proposal.

The figures show the 2016 'Multi-annual Financial Framework' ceiling at EUR 150.217 billion in commitment appropriations.

Where to now? The Commission is due to table its proposal in late May, and the budget needs to be agreed between Council and Parliament by the end of December.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.