The European Parliament double-checks the EU 2014-2020 budget

European Parliament President Martin Schulz (S&D, DE), Chairs votes on Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. This is the 7th Parliamentary Term of this House. (EP Audiovisual Services, 19/11/2013, Strasbourg)

European Parliament President Martin Schulz (S&D, DE), Chairs votes on Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. This is the 7th Parliamentary Term of this House. (EP Audiovisual Services, 19/11/2013, Strasbourg)

The European Parliament approved yesterday the EU proper budget for the next seven years, set at €960 billion in commitments and €908bn in payments (at 2011 prices). This is the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 providing the financial resources and setting the expenditure limits for all EU institutions and policies. As a general rule the Multiannual Financial Frameworks (MFF) lay down the maximum annual amounts which the EU may spend in different political fields. The EU budget commitments are legal promises to spend money on certain projects, which may be paid out over several financial years. Payments are the actual amounts to be paid in any given year.

Along the lines of the MFF 2014-2020, every year the Commission will formulate its proposal for the next year budget, to be approved by the Council and the Parliament according to the standard procedure as laid down by the EU Treaty. The MFF 2014-20 will be reviewed by the Commission in 2016, taking account of the economic situation at the time as well as the then macroeconomic projections. This seven-year budgetary planning is a standard procedure for the EU. The currently in force seven-year resources and spending programme 2007-2013 ends on 31st of December 2013.

A complex approval

The approval of the MFF 2014-2020 was a rather complex procedure. This newspaper has followed closely the entire affair. After months of complex negotiations, the Parliament finally gave its blessing to the EU’s long-term budget for 2014-2020 yesterday Tuesday 19 November. At stake was the coverage of old unpaid bills, pending even from 2012.

The Council tried to finance those old liabilities from the resources of the 2014 budget, cutting down by the same amount the resources to be devoted in the 2014-2020 period. On 8 November the European Sting writer George Pepper noted, “Earlier in the year, the Commission estimated it would run short of €11.2bn to pay its outstanding obligations during 2013 also including unpaid bills from 2012. By July 2013 the member states, that is the Council, agreed to pay only €7.3bn of the above amount. Legislators expressed their anger over this, because they sensed that the Council wanted to cover the gap of €3.9bn from the already slashed 2014 allocations. Last month the Council was forced to approve the rest of the outstanding payments amounting to €3.9bn”.

The Council paid

After that, the way was paved for the European Parliament to approve both, the 2014 and the MFF 2014-2020. There was more to it though. The Parliament insisted and finally it was accepted that, “all legal bases for the various EU programmes be finalised on the basis of co-decision between the Council and Parliament”. This is now the case and to this effect many programmes are currently discussed and voted during this plenary session of the house.

This new procedure was inaugurated with the cohesion policy funds for 2014–2020, probably the most important policy and the largest spending heading of the European Union. This policy package will absorb a round sum of €300bn during the next seven years, almost one-third of the entire EU resources. The programmes under this policy line are expected to help the 28 EU economies converge.

Given that Lithuania holds the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, its Permanent Representative to the EU, ambassador Raimundas Karoblis, send yesterday a letter to Danuta Hübner, Chair of the Parliament Committee on Regional Development, presenting the consolidated text of the Cohesion Package for 2014–2020.

Double checking

This letter from the President of the Permanent Representatives Committee, confirms that the Council of the EU and the European Parliament have reached the political agreement on the Cohesion policy regulations for 2014–2020. As a result the way is now open for the relevant vote in the European Parliament, which is planned for today. The implementation of the new Cohesion policy period starts from 1st January 2014.

This new procedure will be repeated for all the major EU programmes covering all the 2014-2020 budgetary period. It will give the Parliament the opportunity to cross check the effectiveness and the transparency of the allocation of EU funds.

 

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