With only minutes to spare before the conciliation deadline expired at midnight – which would have meant the European Commission starting from scratch an having to draft a new one – the EU institutions’ negotiators finally reached a deal on the budget for 2022 last night in Brussels.
German Green/EFA Group lead negotiator and member of the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) Rasmus Andresen tweeted shortly afterwards, adding a picture of his group’s team: “30 minutes before the deadline we achieved a deal for the EU budget 22. +€479m compared to the initial proposal from the European Commission. More for our nature, health, vaccines & research.”
Andresen later also pointed in detail to the gains Parliament was able to secure: €47.5m for the nature preservation programme LIFE, €60m for the HorizonEU research programme, €51m in health- related spending, €35m for Erasmus+, as well as some single figure top-ups for Creative Europe and for Daphne, the new programme dedicated to the prevention of gender violence.
The European Parliament’s S&D Group’s lead negotiator Victor Negrescu published a similar tweet after the deal was struck, giving slightly different numbers and attesting to the ‘hot off the press’ nature of initial communications from BUDG members.
The Bulgarian socialist mentioned €30m for SMEs (of which €10m for the tourism sector) as well as €190m for international, and €211m for EU solidarity as further examples of Parliament’s gains.
Olivier Chastel (BE), lead negotiator of the Renew Group tweeted: “#Deal! With this new agreement on the #budget2022 it is some €440m more that the European Parliament has obtained compared to the initial proposal” – and along the lines of his group’s priorities, he argued, namely “international vaccination, #RuleofLaw, research, health, youth, environment”.
“30 minutes before the deadline we achieved a deal for the EU budget 22. +€479m compared to the initial proposal from the European Commission. More for our nature, health, vaccines & research” German Green/EFA Group lead negotiator and member of the Committee on Budgets (BUDG) Rasmus Andresen
In the area of Rule of Law and the fight against corruption Parliament was able to obtain an increase in the budget for the new European Prosecutor’s Office by €3.7m, nine more staff positions at the European Court of Justice (CJEU) and thirteen more at the European Court of Auditors (ECA).
When the negotiations were suspended last Friday, the day an agreement was expected to be reached, observers began to fear that a more protracted inter-institutional struggle might be afoot, not exactly unheard of in the past.
In the end, the last-minute deal was celebrated by all. For the Council, Irena Drmaž, Slovenia's Ministre Délégué for the negotiations, representing the rotating Council presidency, stated in a press release:
“We reached a well-balanced deal today, which is great news for citizens”.
Drmaž, a Director General in the Slovenian Finance Ministry, added that “next year’s EU budget dedicates enough resources to our priorities, and at the same time ensures sufficient fiscal space for unforeseen circumstances”.
As was reiterated by all involved, the top priority in the current situation is recovery, taking into account climate and digital targets.
“Next year’s EU budget dedicates enough resources to our priorities, and at the same time ensures sufficient fiscal space for unforeseen circumstances” Irena Drmaž, Slovenia's Ministre Délégué for the budget negotiations
Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn was quoted in his institution’s press release on Tuesday: “This agreement confirms that all institutions are ready to reach a compromise for the sake of a budget, which will support a sustainable recovery and the EU's necessary transition to the benefit of all”.
Karlo Ressler, Parliament’s rapporteur on the general parts of the budget stated in the Parliament’s official press release: "The budget negotiations took place in difficult circumstances, during the fight against the pandemic and its consequences, and we can be satisfied with the result”.
The “reinforcements” Parliament managed to secure would pave the way for a more resilient Union, Ressler argued, and also send “a clear message for all Europeans that Europe is committed to a strong recovery, for all sectors, all regions and all generations."
His fellow group member and negotiator, BUDG Vice-Chair and a former European Commissioner in charge of budgets, Janusz Lewandowski, added a sting to the tail of his tweet on Tuesday:
“Last night we agreed the EU 2022 budget, enriched for the first time with billions from the Recovery Plan. Good news for Europe - struck by a pandemic, it can now await funds. Poland is also waiting but, through the fault of the government may not get it”.
The annual budget for 2022 will now be formally adopted by the Council and by Parliament, for the latter starting with a vote in BUDG on Thursday. The vote in plenary, which will mark the end of the process, is currently scheduled for 24 November 2021.