Compromise reached on EU budget for 2015, but fails to address Europe’s growing payments crisis
The agreement between MEPs and EU governments on the EU budget for 2015 is much closer to the outcome of the first round of negotiations and the EU budget could have been agreed three months ago. It reflects a compromise between the parliament and the council, but does very little to address the growing gap between the EU’s commitments and payments on hand to service them, Bernd Kölmel, budgets spokesman of the eurorealist European Conservatives and Reformists, has warned.
The last minute agreement adopted by MEPs today sees parliament’s demands for outstanding bills in 2014 balanced against efforts to tighten spending in 2015. The payments in the 2014 budget will be increased by 49.8 million Euros, with payments increased by 3.5 billion Euros. But the budget for 2015 will fall below the initial commission proposal and far below parliament’s initial demand, with commitments set at 145 billion Euros, and payments at 141 billion.
The deal represents an improvement on the previous proposal, with a better focus on jobs and growth, and there is also an inclusion of ‘Joint Statements’, which will commit the institutions to find a longer term agreement on some key areas of disagreement between parliament and council. However, Mr Kölmel is concerned that the fundamental issue of the lack of sustainability of the budget has yet to be addressed, with the gulf between commitments and payments still unaddressed.
Mr Kölmel said: “This budget is a step in the right direction in terms of the overall figures, with a better focus on growth and jobs and a straight compromise between the parliament’s position and that of EU governments.
“However, this agreement does little to address the growing gulf between the commitments the EU has made and the lack of payments on hand to service them. We have missed an opportunity to make difficult decisions here about how we refocus and reduce the budget so that we can deliver better value and reflect the budgetary restraint within the Member States.”