With a view to boosting Europe’s post-COVID recovery as well as strengthening support for young people and humanitarian aid, the European Parliament’s Budget Committee (BUDG) has rejected cuts to the 2022 EU Budget proposed by the European Council and firmly positioned itself behind the original draft budget as proposed by the European Commission.
BUDG committee MEPs agreed their position in a vote on Tuesday with co-rapporteur on the file, Damian Boeselager (Greens/EFA, DE) arguing that, in times when the tasks for the EU institutions are rapidly expanding - for example in the context of the Recovery Fund, worth “hundreds of billions” - “prudent budgetary support” for these institutions was crucial.
“The Parliament's reading therefore restores the Council's cuts on nearly all budget lines and increases select lines above the draft budget presented by the Commission", said Boeselager.
The suggested increases affect many programmes and policies, which MEPs see as contributing to the post-pandemic recovery.
For the Horizon Europe research programme, the committee wants €305m more, for the Connecting Europe Facility, which funds the construction of high-quality and sustainable trans-European transport, energy and digital networks, an extra €207m, and €171m more for the environment and climate action LIFE programme.
“The Parliament's reading therefore restores the Council's cuts on nearly all budget lines and increases select lines above the draft budget presented by the Commission" BUDG Committee co-rapporteur on the 2022 EU Budget, Damian Boeselager MEP (Greens/EFA, DE)
Co-rapporteur Karlo Ressler (EPP, HR), explained the committee’s rationale: “The European budget for next year will affect every region, every sector and every generation in Europe. We have worked for several months to reach a clear and strong position of the Parliament with the aim of pushing the post-pandemic recovery further”.
He added that “supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and strengthening education, research and innovation, and health programmes will show our commitment to the recovery.”
Support for young people also remains a key priority for MEPs who want to see an increase in the Erasmus+ budget of €137m, equivalent to an additional 40,000 exchanges.
They also added €700m to support the implementation of the childhood social exclusion instrument the European Child Guarantee.
For the Liberal Renew Group, Belgian BUDG member Olivier Chastel commented: “To remain credible, Europe must be united, inclusive, innovative, youth-oriented, and responsible. We must be up to this new ‘world that is coming’, and which is taking a new path of ‘strategic’ growth, through digital and climate transitions”.
“The European budget for next year will affect every region, every sector and every generation in Europe. We have worked for several months to reach a clear and strong position of the Parliament with the aim of pushing the post-pandemic recovery further” UDG Committee co-rapporteur on the 2022 EU Budget, Karlo Ressler MEP (EPP, HR)
On the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the BUDG committee is proposing a €1.1 billion budget boost for the COVAX programme for global equitable access to vaccines. Romanian Renew Group shadow rapporteur Nicolae Ștefănuță argued that this was “necessary because we cannot be safe in Europe if the world is not safe”.
In light of the situation in Afghanistan, the BUDG committee also said they wanted to see funding for humanitarian aid raised by 20 percent as well as a reinforced Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
The BUDG Committee is scheduled to vote on an accompanying resolution to its proposals on 11 October.
The plenary vote on Parliament’s position on the 2022 draft budget is expected for the 18-22 October session. This will launch three weeks of ‘conciliation’ talks with Council.
The aim is to reach a deal in time for the budget to be passed by Parliament at the end of November.