A deadline for the agreement of the EU's budget for 2015 expired at midnight last night, as talks between the European Parliament and Council broke down (1). The Greens have criticised the delay and the negotiation process, with Green budgetary spokesperson Indrek Tarand saying:
"The intransigence and last-minute approach of EU governments has meant talks on the EU budget will go to extra time. With the budget already facing shortfalls and beneficiaries of EU funds waiting to have their bills paid, this is irresponsible and reflects badly on the credibility of the EU.
"Suspicions remain that EU governments will fail to solve the problem of perpetual under-budgeting, which will doom the EU to a future of chaotic budgeting and shortfalls. This is not only bad for the credibility of the EU, it will also negatively impact on beneficiaries of EU programmes in key areas like research and development and social funds, who struggle to make ends meet.
"Cutting EU spending on research and innovation is totally wrongheaded at a time when we should be looking to stimulate economic recovery. There are currently around 70 R&D projects being held back by the inability of the EU to pay funding it has committed. The EU Commission has also made clear the serious funding shortfalls faced by the acclaimed Erasmus education exchange programme. This makes a mockery of promises by EU governments to make future-oriented investment a priority."
(1) The negotiations were expected to agree the EU's 2015 budget as well as amending budgets to make up for some of the shortfalls already being faced in 2014. The European Commission will now have to come forward with a fresh proposal, which will have to be agreed within weeks.