Better focus, not more spending, is answer to budget stalemate

Three weeks of intense negotiation over the European Union’s 2015 budget ended in stalemate on Monday.

No agreement was reached in the three-way negotiations between the EU Parliament, Council and Commission before a midnight deadline passed. The Commission must now come forward with a completely new budget proposal.

Conservative budget spokesman Richard Ashworth MEP said: “It should recalibrate and re-focus the budget.

“What is clear is that the overall budget is not going to get any bigger. That would be entirely wrong given the budgetary restraint being shown by individual countries, including the Conservative-led government in the UK.

“The Parliament cannot and will not agree a budget for 2015 until all issues to do with the 2014 budget have been resolved – including what is to be done about €23 billion-worth of unpaid bills from member states.

“In addition, the current proposals themselves are ill-focused and unsustainable. When a budget has €146 billion in spending commitments but makes less than €142 billion available, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that doesn’t add up.

Mr Ashworth, Conservative MEP for South East England, pointed out that the new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had made it clear he wanted greater investment in growth and jobs. The failed budget had been drawn up by former Budget Commissioner Janus Lewandowski, but this was an opportunity for his successor Kristalina Giorgieva to put forward her own strategic changes to reflect these priorities.

“We need sensible proposals to cut spending where it is ineffective and allow better investment in areas that will be a catalyst for employment and productivity. If the Commission cannot deliver that by January the Parliament should simply take two per cent of every budget heading – right across the board. That is how urgent matters are.”


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