MEPs seek to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, after cuts done by the Council in July

The Budgets Committee at the European Parliament finalised its position on EU Budget 2012 proposing changes to the modified proposal of the Council. Key changes proposed include increased spending on Palestine, maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean, managing refugee flows, EU2020 growth strategy-related programmes, funding for vegetable producers and development aid for Asia and South America. Proposed savings include €26 million on Common Foreign and Security Policy.

On 5 of October, MEPs at the Budgets Committee finalised its position on the EU budget for 2012. Their position now is to restore the draft budget proposed by the Commission, after cuts by the Council in July. Among the changes, the Committee agreed that the EU2020 growth strategy should not fall victim to the current austerity climate, since investments in smart, sustainable and inclusive growth are needed to help Europe out of the crisis. Thus, the committee added money, approximately €30 million, to budget lines directly related to EU2020.

Besides the amendments regarding the Europa 2020 strategy, the Budgets Committee, at the request of the Agriculture Committee, agreed to add €250 million to funds for fruit and vegetable producers. This money is meant to prevent future crises such as last year's EHEC-bacteria one and to compensate farmers for the financial consequences of further crises as it happened. In addition, the committee strongly defended the EU's food for the needy scheme, which provides food to food banks, for which a new legal basis is blocked in the Council. The Commission recently presented a proposal for unblocking this scheme.

On the other hand, according to MEPs, an increase of €100 million in aid to Palestine and 27 million for the development co-operation instrument for Asia and Latin America is needed to the Budget. They also added €3 million for election observation missions and €3 million for the Turkish-Cypriote Community. In relation to this, the budget for the EU border agency Frontex should be increased by €25 million, according to MEPs, because this money might be needed for maritime border controls in the Mediterranean and for stepping up surveillance at the Greek-Turkish border. They also disagreed with cuts proposed by the Council on the EU Refugee Fund, Return Fund and External Border Fund (€45 million).

On the savings chapter, the Budgets Committee approved introducing cuts to Parliament's initial position on its budget. Instead of an increase of 2.3%, as foreseen in April, the committee opted for an increase of around 1.9%, while doing more with the money. The proposal now includes the accommodation of 18 extra MEPs as a result of the Lisbon Treaty and the preparations for the accession of Croatia. MEPs voted for a 5% cut in their travel expenses and those of EP staff. They also intend to save money on translation and interpretation by making organizational changes.

The Budgets Committee has still to vote its draft budget resolution. Parliament will then vote its position at the 26 October plenary session. A 21-day conciliation period starts in November. If Parliament and Council can agree, the final budget could be approved by the end of November.