Negotiations between the European Parliament and Council on the EU's 2012 budget concluded last night with an agreement, which is now subject to adoption by the EU Parliament and member state governments. The Greens criticised the deal, which represents a scale back of the original proposals by the European Commission (1), in spite of the growing tasks faced by the EU. The group is also concerned about the proposed spending in key areas, notably the disproportionate amount of funding for nuclear energy, vis-a-vis safe and sustainable energy technologies. Commenting on the agreement, Green budgetary spokesperson Helga Trüpel said:
“This deal represents a scaling back of ambition for Europe and for an EU response to the crisis, mirroring the narrow-minded austerity focus of EU governments at national level. The EU budget is a key instrument for European investment and should be a key instrument for stimulating European economic recovery in response to the crisis but this deal will reduce its ability to do so.
“The proposed spending in key areas will also fail to ensure the sustainable transformation of the European economy, by prioritising investment in green technologies, and limit the ability of the EU to meet the goals it has set for itself under the 2020 Strategy. The EU is falling behind emerging economies in terms of sustainably transforming its economy and this budget will fail to redress this. The Greens are particularly concerned about the disproportionate amount of funding allocated to nuclear energy vis-a-vis safe and sustainable energy technologies, like renewables and energy efficiency, as well as cutbacks to the EU development aid budget.
“The Council took a particularly hypocritical approach as regards funding for the ITER nuclear fusion project. Despite its blind focus on cutbacks across the budget, the Council is still insisting that the ballooning costs for ITER are met under the EU budget. Instead, with nuclear fusion a technology that will not be commercially-viable before 2050, if ever, the Council should finally give up on pouring public funds into this hugely expensive white elephant. In order to continue bankrolling ITER, cuts will likely be made to the EU research budget, where the funds could be used to support technologies that might actually contribute to the European economy in the short-term.”
(1) The budget will be increased by around 1.9% compared with 2011, far lower than the amount proposed by the European Commission or the position outlined by the European Parliament last month, when MEPs voted for a 5.2% increase to reflect the growing competences of the EU.