The Council of the European Union is expected to finalise its negotiating position on the 2013 EU Budget for the discussions with the European Parliament (EP), during its ECOFIN meeting on Friday, November 9 in Brussels. The ECOFIN meeting, which will focus solely on the annual EU budget will be chaired by Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for EU Affairs, Ambassador Andreas D. Mavroyiannis. The Conciliation meeting with the European Parliament will follow right thereafter, with the Cyprus EU Presidency expressing optimism that an agreement will be reached.
The ECOFIN Council meeting is geared at preparing the Council for the second meeting of the Conciliation Committee, which will take place later the same day. The Conciliation Committee is tasked with reaching a deal between the diverging positions of the Council and the EP on the draft 2013 EU Budget.
The ECOFIN Council will reconvene after that, where the results will be evaluated and a possible compromise will be endorsed.
The Cyprus Presidency expects that the negotiations will result in a joint text, which will be acceptable to both sides. Thereafter, the European Parliament and the Council will have 14 days to approve it according to their respective procedures, finally leading to the 2013 EU Budget.
Ambassador Mavroyiannis is hopeful that the existing excellent climate of cooperation will lead to a mutually satisfying agreement and stressed the importance of striking a deal.
“An agreement on the Budget for 2013 will show the EU’s collective will and capability to take important decisions for the European good. We should also do our utmost to reach an agreement on the Budget, since failure to do so will jeopardise the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework The negotiations of the MFF and those of the Budget for 2013 are kept completely separate and all three Institutions have worked responsibly in a way that ensures they remain separate,” stressed Ambassador Mavroyiannis. ”
Targeting a compromise
The Conciliation Committee has the responsibility of bridging the gap between the Council’s position on the draft 2013 EU Budget and the EP’s amendments. The Committee consists of delegations of the 27 Member States and of an equal number of representatives from the European Parliament. This is the final meeting of the Conciliation Committee before the 21-day Conciliation period ends, on Tuesday, November 13, by which time an agreement needs to be reached.
A first Conciliation Committee took place on October 26 at the premises of the European Parliament, while intermediate trilogues also took place.
The Council established its position on the Draft 2013 EU Budget on July 24, while the European Parliament voted its own position on October 23. During this Plenary voting procedure it was established that the Council could not accept all of the European Parliament’s amendments, thus initiating the Conciliation 21 days period.
The Council's position amounts to EUR 132.70 billion in payments. This represents an increase of 2.79% compared to 2012 (corresponding to 0.99% of the EU's Gross National Income (GNI)), which is well above inflation and reflects the fact that 2013 is the last year of the current Multiannual Financial Framework. Concerning commitments, the Council's position amounts to EUR 149.78 billion, representing an increase of 1.27%. Commitments are legal promises to spend money on certain projects, contracts, research, whereas payments" refers to the money that the EU actually expects to pay out in a given year.
The EP asked for a 6.82% increase in payments to bring the total amount to EUR 137.90 billion. The Commission proposed an increase of 6.85% to EUR 137.92 billion.
It has been evident from the negotiations so far that both the Council and the EP share a common vision for the 2013 EU Budget, which prioritizes helping the creation of jobs and the promotion growth.
Notwithstanding the significance of such measures for boosting growth and exiting the crisis, the Council believes that the considerable efforts and budgetary constraints that Member States currently face at national level and the goal for fiscal consolidation at national level cannot be ignored.
Τherefore the Council considers it instrumental to respect the existing ceilings of the Multiannual Financial Framework and to ensure adequate margins under the different ceilings in order to be able to cope with unforeseen situations.
Apart from establishing the overall appropriations to be entered in the annual budget the discussions of the Conciliation Committee also include:
- Draft amending budget no 5 for 2012 which aims at mobilizing the EU solidarity fund for an amount of EUR 670.19 million in commitments and payments in favour of Italy after a series of earthquakes in May this year;
- Draft amending budget no 6 for 2012 aimed at increasing this year's budget by EUR 9.0 billion in payments in order to close the gap between the amount agreed last year and the actual implementation;
- The global transfer which is designed to meet EUR 419.7 million of the shortfall in payments in the 2012 budget by transfers within the relevant budget chapters;
- The Letter of amendment no 1 to the draft budget for 2013 which reduces the amount required under heading 2 (preservation and management of natural resources) by EUR 25.1 million in commitments and payments, in line with a new Commission estimate notably of the agricultural expenditure.
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