Negotiations between the European Parliament and Council on the EU's 2011 budget concluded late last night without agreement (1). Green MEPs criticised the intransigence of the blocking minority of member state governments, underlining that the EU Parliament had been willing to agree to the reductions in the budget demanded by Council.
After the negotiations, Greens/EFA budgetary spokesperson Helga Trüpel said:
"The negotiations on next year's EU budget are at a dead-end due to the dogged intransigence of a handful of member state governments and we cannot continue banging our heads against a brick wall. The EP has gone far more than halfway to meet the demands of the Council but, regrettably, the Council has offered no flexibility.
"Money is not the problem: the EP had been and remains willing to agree to the reductions in the EU's 2011 budget demanded by Council, in exchange for guarantees on the role of the EP in future budgetary discussions. Unfortunately, the blocking minority of member states seems to think it can just put its fingers in its ears and fail to implement the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty on formalising the role of the Parliament in future negotiations on the EU's financial perspectives.
"MEPs simply want a formal structure for negotiations on the EU's future multiannual budget and an official role for the Parliament in that structure, as well as a guarantee that these discussions are not censored and that all options concerning how to finance the EU remain on the table. Clearly, the outcome should not be prejudged but the Greens believe that only by introducing a system of own resources can the EU end its destructive cyclical budgetary squabbling, as well as ultimately reducing costs for EU member states.
"The stonewalling on budgetary flexibility is also a major frustration. The current financial framework has had to be adapted several times in the recent past (Galileo, EIT, economic recovery plan), yet Council refuses to agree on workable arrangements for readjusting the framework more effectively. It cannot be the case that extra funding needs for the ITER nuclear fusion project for 2012/2013 are realised to the detriment of other priorities agreed in the EU 2020 strategy, notably the R&D framework programme."
The Commission now needs to propose a new draft budget. There is no deadline for this, but the Commission will probably do this as soon as it can. After this proposal, the Council must adopt its position within one month and after that, MEPs have 42 days to react These are the maximum limits - the institutions could of course adopt their positions much faster, aiming at an agreement in December. It should noted in this context that the European Council has included the EU budget on the agenda for its 16-17 December summit.