Correspondent's Choice

This story about the European Parliament and the 2011 budget was published by EurActiv on 24th November 2010.

The European Parliament is sticking to its guns by insisting on including in the 2011 EU budget “political commitments” which were recently rejected by the UK and the Netherlands, it emerged after a debate held on the EU assembly’s premises in Strasbourg yesterday (23 November).

Opening the debate, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek reiterated that the assembly was prepared to accept a modest budget increase of 2.91%, as requested by EU member states, instead of the 6.19% rise it had wanted (see ‘Background’).

But he made it plain that in exchange, the Parliament would seek to secure an agreement on the budget’s flexibility, especially in view of the new instruments set up by the Lisbon Treaty and upcoming talks on the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) and own resources.

‘Flexibility’ is a mechanism under which until now up to four billion euros have been allocated each year to different projects on the approval of EU member states, voting by qualified majority. The UK insists on unanimity when voting on decisions to reallocate flexible spending.

Failure to agree on reallocation under the flexibility mechanism would endanger the financing of programmes such as ITER, an international project to build an experimental fusion reactor in France, or commitments made to ACP countries.

The term ‘own resources’ refers to innovative ways to supplement the EU budget, for example by taxing CO2 emissions or financial transaction. A number of wealthy EU countries oppose the introduction of own resources for the EU, which they say would result in larger budgetary contributions for them.

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