Sticking points in EU 2013 budget talks include additional aid funds

Andreas Mavroyiannis, deputy minister to the president of Cyprus for European affairs, presided over a budget-related meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Negotiations for the European Union’s 2013 budget appear to be in a gridlock after latest talks between key institutions failed yet again to produce an agreement. Photo by: The Council of the European Union

Negotiations for the European Union’s 2013 budget appear to be in a gridlock after latest talks between key institutions failed yet again to produce an agreement.

Following a Nov. 13 budget-related meeting it hosted in Brussels, Belgium, the Council of the European Union “took note of the impossibility to reach an agreement with the European Parliament on the 2013 budget and other related items.” The meeting was boycotted by parliament negotiators due to a disagreement over its proposal to increase the 2012 budget by €9 billion ($11.4 billion) to pay for standing obligations.

The parliament, which shares legislative duties with the Council, proposed the increase as an amendment to the European Commission’s original request of €150.93 billion in commitments and €137.92 billion in payments. The parliament’s draft amendment seeks, among others, an additional €23.7 million for humanitarian aid programs, €17 million for food aid, €14.4 million for health programs and €12 million for the European neighborhood policy.

With the failed talks Tuesday night, the council said it “expects the European Parliament to engage quickly into constructive negotiations” and has asked the commission to present a new draft budget.

If no budget is adopted by the start of 2013, the council said “a sum equivalent to not more than one twelfth of the budget appropriations for 2012 or of the draft budget proposed by the Commission, whichever is smaller, may be spent each month for any chapter of the budget.”

Differences between the council and parliament regarding the EU budget are not limited to talks for the 2013 budget. The two are also at odds over the EU’s 2014-2020 multiannual budget, which the council seeks to reduce and the parliament wants to protect from deep cuts.

Climate finance commitments

Meanwhile, despite lack of agreement on the 2013 budget, the council endorsed at a separate Nov. 13 meeting its conclusions on fast-start climate finance.

Overall, the council reaffirmed the EU commitment to provide fast-start climate finance and committed to regularly report related spending. Further, the council welcomed the progress in establishing the Green Climate Fund and called for swift resolution regarding EU participation in the fund.

Oxfam International has criticized what it described as a lack of new concrete commitments from the European Union. The bloc’s finance minister, it said, “failed to provide a clean answer to what Europe will do to ensure climate finance does not fall off a cliff once Fast Start Finance is fulfilled in December 2012.”

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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.