Finally, a 2013 EU budget

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz. The European Union has adopted a 2013 budget that more generously funds external affairs, including development cooperation, compared with 2012 spending levels. Photo by: © European Union / CC BY-NC-ND

The European Union has adopted a 2013 budget that more generously funds external affairs, including development cooperation, compared with 2012 spending levels.

The 2013 budget is part of the package approved Dec. 12 by the European Parliament. The parliament’s plenary vote was the last step in a budget process that saw gridlocks and showed disagreements within key EU institutions — factors that continue to affect negotiations for the broader 2014-2020 multiannual financing framework.

The 2013 budget sets spending levels at €150.9 billion ($196.6 billion) for commitments and €132.8 billion for payments. It also includes €6 billion worth of funds to cover shortfalls in the 2012 budget.

For the EU as a global player heading, the adopted budget provides €9.58 in commitments — higher than the €9.4 billion budget for 2012. The approved levels for payments, however, were reduced to €6.3 billion from nearly €7 billion in 2012.

Under this heading, the budget allocates €2.47 billion in commitments and €1.29 billion in payments to the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument. Adopted levels for the development cooperation instrument, meanwhile, are €2.64 billion in commitments and €1.88 billion in payments. The budget for humanitarian aid in 2013 is €865.26 million in commitments and €781.49 million in payments.

2013 shortfalls expected

The European Commission, which drafts and manages the EU budget, welcomed the adoption of the budget but voiced concerns that the allocated amount for payments is likely to run out by September 2013.

“The adopted budget is €5 billion below what the Commission estimates necessary for 2013, and another €3 billion remain outstanding from amending budget 6 in 2012. This means that the pressure on the 2013 EU budget will be tremendous,” Janusz Lewandowski, the European commissioner for financial programming and budget, said. “There is a serious risk that we will run out of funds early in the course of next year.”

Leaders of the European parliament, council and commission did offer assurances that additional funds maybe requested in 2013 should the appropriated funds prove insufficient.

“The Council and the European Parliament will take position on any draft amending budget as quickly as possible in order to avoid any shortfall in payment appropriations,” the heads of the three EU institutions said in a joint statement.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.