The move follows the European Parliament's rejection in March of an austerity €960bn budget put forward by the European Council, which represents EU government heads. The proposal for the budget, known as the Multiannual Financial Framework, would mean a 3.3% real-terms cut from the existing €994bn budget.
At a meeting in Brussels last night, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, European Parliament president Martin Schulz and current Council president Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny agreed to begin formal discussions on the budget next Monday (May 13).
In parallel, the three bodies will also discuss plans to ask EU member states for an additional €11.2bn in funding for this year’s budget.
Ireland, which holds the current presidency of the council, has tabled a proposal for the budget to be increased in two phases, with EU finance ministers asked to approve a first tranche of €7.3bn when they meet next Tuesday (May 14).
Ireland is aiming to reach political agreement on both the long-term budget and the full €11.2bn increase to this year’s spending envelope before the end of its six-month presidency next month, with the remaining €3.9bn for the 2013 budget to provided by member states by ‘early autumn’.
At last night’s meeting, the presidents of the European Council and Parliament both stressed the €11.2bn was the minimum needed to meet the EU’s financial obligations in 2013.
Schulz said ‘good progress’ had been made at what was a ‘crucial meeting’ for the EU’s budget plans, but stressed that more discussions were needed. The Parliament has said it will not approve the long-term budget until it gets agreement on an increase to this year’s allocation.
‘The European Parliament wants to ensure that the EU's bills for 2013 can be paid. European citizens benefiting from programmes ranging from Erasmus to the European Social Fund must know that the necessary funds will still be available at the end of the year,’ he explained. ‘Key negotiations can now be opened on the long-term EU budget, but I underline nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
‘The European Parliament is working constructively to get a deal on the EU annual and long-term budgets that are in the best interests of Europeans. We cannot and will not introduce budget deficits into the EU budget and repeat some of the mistakes of national budgets.’