Brussels Daily
09 Nov 2015


Brussels Daily


EU budget 2016: Council calls on EP to respect its commitments as conciliation

On 9 November 2015, the Conciliation Committee held its first meeting on the 2016 EU budget.  The Committee mandated the Commission to prepare a draft joint text with the aim of reaching an agreement at the Committee’s second meeting on 13 November. This first meeting of the Conciliation Committee also allowed the Council and the European Parliament to exchange views on their respective positions.

“The Council’s objective is clear: it wants a 2016 budget that enables the EU to meet its current challenges in full respect of the multiannual financial framework agreed by both institutions  for 2014-2020.  And it  wants a 2016 budget that provides the EU with sufficient leeway to react to unforeseen needs”, said Pierre Gramegna, minister for finance of Luxembourg and President of the Council, adding: “The Council is in agreement with the Parliament that addressing the migration crisis is a top priority which needs to be reflected in the EU budget. “But the Council believes that if the EU wants to be credible we also have to honour our commitments and respect the expenditure ceilings of the EU’s multiannual financial framework. Showing solidarity with refugees must therefore go hand in hand with setting the priorities according to the current needs and showing self-restraint at EU level.

Another topic was for all EU institutions, including the European Parliament, to live up to the commitment they made in December 2013 and reduce their staff numbers by 5% by 2017 compared to 2013. Commission calculations show that the Council’s personnel would be cut by 4.5% and the Commission’s by 4% by the end of 2016, compared to the posts authorized at the beginning of 2013. By contrast, the Parliament’s staff would increase by 0.4% over the same period.

What else is the Conciliation Committee discussing?

In its draft budget for 2016 the Commission proposed to set the total level of commitments at €153.83 billion and the total level of payments at €143.54 billion. This is a decrease of 5.2% in commitments and an increase of 1.6% in payments compared to the 2015 budget (taking account of the seven amendments made so far to the 2015 budget).

The Council‘s position, adopted on 4 September by unanimity, amounts to €153.27 billion in commitments (-5.5% compared to 2015) and €142.12 billion in payments (+ 0.6%).

The European Parliament, in a vote on 28 October, asked for total commitments to be increased to €157.43 billion (-3.0% compared to 2015) and total payments to €146.46 billion (+3.7%). Both amounts would significantly exceed the ceilings fixed by the multiannual financial framework: by €1.5 billion and €1.3 billion respectively.

The conciliation meetings also discussed amending letter no 2 for 2016 which is aimed at increasing support for tackling the migration crisis. In total it increases financing for the most vulnerable member states, the relocation of refugees and the migration and border funds by €1.55 billion in commitments and €1.42 billion in payments from the 2016 budget. Neither the Council nor the Parliament has yet taken a position on the amending letter.

Without being formally part of the conciliation talks, draft amending budget no 8 for 2015 was also raised in the discussions. This draft amending budget adjusts the 2015 budget to take account of a forecast increase in other revenue such as  fines of €1.5 billion and customs duties of €800 million. It also incorporates into this year’s budget the additional contributions that member states have already paid, or still have to pay, for the 2014 and 2015 VAT and GNI own resources balances (€5.7 billion and €1.4 billion respectively). The Council is going to accept draft amending budget no 8 on 10 November while the Parliament has not yet taken a position on it.

How does the conciliation on the EU budget work?

The Conciliation Committee is composed of the 28 members of the Council and an equal number of members of the European Parliament; the European Commission also takes part in the Conciliation Committee’s meetings.

An agreement in conciliation still requires endorsement by the Council and the Parliament’s plenary within 14 days.  The conciliation period, which began on 29 October,  ends on 18 November.  If there is no agreement by then, the Commission must submit a new draft budget for 2016.

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