Parliament calls for an EU budget for 2012 that will help revitalise Europe's economy

EU budget fir year 2012 should be one of the main tools for helping Europe's economy to recover after the crisis, by focusing on employment, economic governance and growth. This is the main idea put forward by the European Commission at its Plenary session held in Brussels on 24 March. In this session, MEPs voted on a Resolution setting out their recommendations to the Commission which is an early signal about their wishes and priorities for next year's budget.

The 2012 EU budget should focus on the five targets of the EU 2020 strategy: employment, innovation, research and development, climate change and energy, education and social inclusion. As this reflect the key position of European Parliament, the Resolution voted in the Plenary session expresses MEPs' opposition to any attempt to limit or cut budget funds linked to delivery of the Europe 2020 strategy's headline targets. After the turbulent adoption of EU Budget for year 2011, MEPs also stressed that for year 2012 the ongoing European Semester must be used, as intended, to improve the coordination, consistency and synergies between European and national public investments, so as to achieve the EU’s overall policy objectives more effectively.

In its Resolution, the European Parliament also stresses that due to the difficult economic situation, it is more important than ever to ensure the proper implementation of the EU budget, and suggests it would be desirable to make a comprehensive review of those credit lines with have a history of poor results or where problems have arisen in the implementation phase.

Budgetary impact of long-term Programmes and EU International activities

Parliament warns that the Council's wish to underfund parts of the budget, especially those for cohesion, citizenship and foreign affairs, could put existing measures at risk, if unforeseen events such as those in several north African countries, or new political priorities, arise. The EU has a key role to play in supporting Arab countries at this historic point of their democratic development, say MEPs.

The EU budget is to a large extent an investment budget, including projects running over several years, such as research and infrastructure programmes. 2012 is the sixth year of the current financial perspective (2007-2013) and projects have now reached cruising speed. This requires higher levels of payments as the real work is now being done, so MEPs believe an increase in payments in 2012 is "foreseeable". In this regard, Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski announced that the Commission also expects payments to increase by 6 billion euro to 7 billion euro in 2012 as compared to year 2011.

The payments (money actually paid out) are a direct consequence of commitments (funding that is promised) and often appear with a time-lag compared to the commitments. Since all legal commitments have to be fulfilled, the most important political decisions are taken when the commitments are established. Traditionally, MEPs rely on the Commission, as the competent institution, to calculate the level of payments, while they themselves are deeply involved in the discussions on commitments.