MEPs approve EU’s spending in 2017

Euro currency 2019

(Jonathan Brinkhorst, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

MEPs gave their thumbs up to the management of the EU’s 2017 budget, in a series of more than 50 votes on Tuesday.

They welcomed the fact that the error rate for payments – as estimated by the European Court of Auditors – had reached an all-time low of 2.4%. However, they raised some concerns about how testing samples were selected.

Mounting payments backlog

MEPs are worried about the mounting payments backlog, which reached a new record of EUR 267.3 billion in 2017 and is expected to rise even more by the end of the current long-term budget in 2020. MEPs stress that the EU budget is not allowed to run on deficit and that the growing payments backlog represents a financial debt. The situation is a consequence of years of high commitments and low payments. With member states submitting fewer claims than anticipated, the Parliament calls on the Commission to provide them with support to improve the absorption rates.

Calls to fix public procurement issues, fight conflicts of interest

Bidding procedures in some member states “may have turned into semi-legal procedures, preventing fair competition and possibly allowing fraud”, MEPs say, noting with concern shortcomings in Hungary and Slovakia.

The Budgetary Control Committee’s mission to Slovakia in December revealed a risk that organised crime could infiltrate how EU funds are checked and managed. They therefore call on the Commission to “take the necessary measures”.

MEPs also call on the Commission to ensure a zero tolerance policy against conflicts of interest, pointing in particular to the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and the need to investigate the matter.

Having previously criticised the Commission for lack of transparency in the appointment procedure of its Secretary-General Martin Selmayr, the Parliament now requested his “immediate resignation […] and the opening of a fair, fully transparent and open competition for this post.”

Growing inequality in agriculture payments

Farming policy benefits big farms disproportionally; MEPs urge the Commission to fix this inequality. Big farms managing over 250 ha represent 1.1% of farms, but receive 22.1% of total direct aid, according to the Commission. MEPs point in particular to Slovakia and Czechia, where just 7% of beneficiaries currently receive over 70% all direct payments.

Problems with the Council, Asylum Support Office

As in the previous year, the Parliament postponed discharge to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). The European Court of Auditors had previously pointed to shortcomings in EASO’s procurement procedures. MEPs recognise the improvements achieved by EASO’s current management team; however, they stress that the 2017 budget was still implemented by the previous management.

MEPs also postponed the discharge to the European Council and the Council on grounds that they failed to cooperate in supplying the information needed. The Parliament has denied discharge to the European Council and the Council for the last eight years.


Discharge is the final approval of the implementation of the budget for a specific year. The European Parliament can grant, postpone or refuse a discharge. If the discharge is postponed, the Parliament may ask the respective institution to provide it with additional information before voting on a final decision later in the year. Granting the discharge closes a specific financial year.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

European Commission: the LED lights of your Audi A6 shall save our planet

A new approach to scaling-up renewable power in emerging markets

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

COVID-19 wave III and the lessons learned

Threats from mammoth banks and Brussels fuel May’s poll rates

EU and Amazon cut deal to end antitrust investigation over e-books deals

MEPs urge EU countries to be transparent about their COVID-19 vaccine supplies

Here’s how private investors can turn plastic into gold

Still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in all EU countries

Africa is set to get its first vertical forest

‘Millions facing starvation’ – Global political and business leaders on the economic impact of COVID-19

How the gender commuting gap could be harming women’s careers

Will 2020 be the year blockchain overcomes its hype?

Progress in medical research: leading or lagging behind?

Bacteria vs. humans: how to fight in this world war?

The future of energy is being shaped in Asia

What we know and what we don’t know about universal basic income

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

First seat projections for the next European Parliament

The energy industry is changing. Are governments switched on?

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

Re-thinking citizenship education: bringing young people back to the ballot box

Commission issues guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

Car rentals: EU action leads to clearer and more transparent pricing

What’s going on in Chernobyl today?

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

Support for EU remains at historically high level despite sceptics

US pardons for accused war criminals, contrary to international law: UN rights office

European Business Summit 2015: In search of a vision for the future

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

Migrants and refugees face higher risk of developing ill-health, says UN report on displaced people in Europe

Autumn 2019 Standard Eurobarometer: immigration and climate change remain main concerns at EU level

Stop the waste: UN food agencies call for action to reduce global hunger

The term AI overpromises. Let’s make machine learning work better for humans instead

How blended finance helped to keep energy supplies flowing during COVID-19

What will a post-pandemic economy look like? Here’s what chief economists expect

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Mergers: Commission approves GlaxoSmithKline’s acquisition of Pfizer’s Consumer Health Business, subject to conditions

Coronavirus: Commission launches call for innovative response and recovery partnerships between EU regions

Parliament names radio studio after journalists murdered in December attack

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

As Houthi forces withdraw from key Yemeni ports, UN monitoring chief welcomes ‘first practical step on the ground’

Get out, stay out: how financial resilience helps end poverty

The ‘ASEAN way’: what it is, how it must change for the future

30 years of tissue engineering, what has been achieved?

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Mental health and suicide prevention

‘Perseverance is key’ to Iraq’s future, UN envoy tells Security Council

Belgium: Youth Forum takes legal step to ban unpaid internships

European Commission recommends common EU approach to the security of 5G networks

The Future of Balkans: Embracing Education

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Could Europe become the first climate-neutral continent?

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s