2022 EU budget deal will lay foundations for a more resilient Europe, says Karlo Ressler

The European Parliament has secured significant budget reinforcement and defended its important role as the budgetary authority, explains co-rapporteur
Karlo Ressler | Source: Karlo Ressler's office

By Karlo Ressler

Karlo Ressler (HR, EPP) is a member of Parliament’s negotiating team on the 2022 Budget trilogues

23 Nov 2021

The negotiations on the 2022 European budget ended shortly before the deadline of the conciliation period, at midnight on 15 November. At several moments, it seemed impossible that an agreement would be reached within the 21-day conciliation period. However, in the final hours, the Parliament managed to convince its counterparts of the importance of significant reinforcement for those flagship EU programmes that have the best added value for citizens. 

The entire budgetary process is complex and covers a complete year of MEPs’ work. It starts by drafting, negotiating and adopting the Parliament’s budgetary guidelines, a political document that states Parliament’s budget priorities and in which areas the focus will be on.

“The Parliament managed to convince its counterparts of the importance of significant reinforcement for those flagship EU programmes that have the best added value for citizens”

Those priorities aim to influence the official European Commission position on the draft budget, which is presented by mid-year. It is important to underline the fact that the 2022 first annual budget will be significantly complemented by the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery investment plan package.

Overall, the main message from Parliament was clear from the beginning - support recovery from the pandemic, boost digital and green investments, support young people in education and mobility, and strengthen Europe’s capacity to deal with emerging global challenges. All these priorities would build on existing EU goals and lay the foundations for a more resilient and sustainable Union.

The Parliament and Council came to the final days of the conciliation with significant differences regarding not only the amounts, but also the interpretation, of the Own Resources decision on the issue of the repayment of the NGEU principal.

It soon became clear that the proposed joint statement on this issue would bind Parliament throughout the duration of the Multiannual Financial Framework period to Council’s interpretation that the specific European Union Recovery Instrument (EURI) line is to be fully used for early repayments if savings are made. Such a bold attempt to hijack the negotiations was unacceptable for the Parliament, as this would pre-empt the prerogatives of Parliament as one arm of the budgetary authority in all future budget negotiations. 

Due to these considerable differences, the talks were suspended on the Friday evening with the plan to continue on the Monday, as the legal deadline to reach an agreement was at midnight on that day.

Following several hours of intense negotiations, a compromise was reached on the issue of the joint statement, in the form where the Parliament, Council and Commission agreed for early repayments only from the 2022 budget line. This way, the budgetary authorities do not pre-empt future decisions in an annual procedure, but the debate will certainly be back on the table in future budgetary discussions. 

With this stumbling block out of the way, the Parliament’s negotiating team concentrated its efforts on winning further increases in our key priority areas. In the final hours of Monday evening, a deal was finally reached, with Parliament obtaining in total €479.1m for its priorities, on top of what the Commission Draft budget proposed, updated with the Amending letter 1. 

These include the Horizon Europe research programme (€100m) and the environment and climate action LIFE programme (€47.5m). The Single Market Programme is topped up by €30m (including €10m for tourism sector), and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office by €3.8m. Parliament also managed to increase Erasmus+ by €35m and EU4Health with an additional €51m, in order to build up a strong European Health Union and to make national health systems more resilient.

“In order for the Parliament to do its work and execute scrutiny and oversight, it was crucial to strengthen our services in all those areas”

The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI - Global Europe) was topped up by €190m, with a particular focus on fighting the pandemics, including through vaccinations.

The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund was increased by €20m, and the Integrated Border Management Fund by €25m, to help manage the migrant crisis at the border of Belarus. Humanitarian Aid was topped by €211m, in order to allow for the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve to be able to cover increased needs of the EU Solidarity Fund for natural catastrophes in the EU. 

Another issue that was important for the Parliament to obtain concerned its administrative budget, which was negotiated by MEP Damian Boeselager. Given the enhanced number of groundbreaking pieces of legislation, arising from the historical investment package or climate legislation, the institutional workload in the coming years will be immense. For the Parliament to do its work and execute scrutiny and oversight, it was crucial to strengthen our services in all those areas.

This achievement is even more important, given that the Council attempted to portray this purely - and falsely - as an administrative burden and increase in salary expenditure. With additional posts, Parliament will be better able to protect the Unions budget, scrutinise breaches of rule of law and maintain the checks and balances so much needed in the EU.

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