For next year’s budget, MEPs have ensured better support for unemployed youngsters and additional funds to boost key initiatives supporting SMEs, transport infrastructure projects, research and Erasmus+ student mobility. Commitment appropriations for 2017 total €157.8578 billion, and payment appropriations €134.49 billion.
Following the Council's formal approval of the conciliation agreement with Parliament on the 2017 budget on 28 November, Parliament approved the budget by 438 votes to 194, with 7 abstentions. It was then signed into law by President Martin Schulz.
“We have reached our aims. The 2017 budget clearly focuses on our priorities of boosting growth, creating jobs – especially for youngsters – and tackling the migration crisis. The additional 500 million Euro we obtained for the Youth Employment Initiative is a clear signal for the EU to act. We have also done our utmost to deal with the root causes of migration”, said lead rapporteur (Commission section) Jens Geier (S&D, DE).
“It is deeply regrettable that the Commission ignored Parliament's reading and failed to add the point about putting in reserve part of the remunerations for former Commissioners, and releasing it on condition that the Code of Conduct be made stricter. This was approved by Parliament with a large majority and aimed to improve the behaviour of Commissioners and subsequently the public image of the institutions as a whole”, said rapporteur for the other sections Indrek Tarand (Greens/EFA, EE).
“The proposal that President Juncker recently sent to President Schulz on improving the Code of Conduct by prolonging the cooling-off period to two years is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough since the former Commissioners receive their transitional allowance for a full three years”, he added.
Youth, growth and jobs
Parliament secured €500 million on top of the draft budget for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to help youngsters desperately seeking a job. It also added €200 million to boost key initiatives for growth and jobs like COSME (supporting SMEs), Connecting Europe Facility (CEF, financing infrastructure projects), Horizon 2020 (research projects) and Erasmus+ for student mobility.
Refugee and migration crisis
MEPs also secured a reinforcement package of €728 million for mainly migration-related funds, including €28 million more for UNRWA (support to Palestine refugees, total of €310m) and €3m more to support peace talks in Cyprus (total €34.8m).
In the debate on the mid-term revision of the EU’s long-term budget (multiannual financial framework 2014-2020), Ivan Korčok, for the Slovak Council Presidency, promised a revision package which would make it possible “to mobilise more than €6 billion to be allocated for the most outstanding priorities until the end of this financial perspective”, in addition to making the budget more flexible.
Parliament’s co-rapporteurs Jan Olbrycht (EPP, PL) and Isabelle Thomas (S&D,FR) cautiously welcomed the Council's efforts, but reminded MEPs that the proposal was still being debated by member states, and said that they looked forward to pursuing the negotiations. "Work is still under way, we have not yet reached our objective", said Mr Olbrycht.