By Derek Vaughan - 12th October 2012
I believe the position taken by the parliament has demonstrated that it is possible to make savings and ensure the parliament remains an effective, efficient institution
Derek Vaughan explains that budget cuts within the EU are necessary, but will not degrade the quality of European institutions
Reaching an agreement on the 2013 budget will undoubtedly be a difficult task this year. With a 6.8 per cent increase proposed by the commission, and a tough position taken by the council, reaching a united position will be a challenge. The council’s position on the administrative budget for institutions is particularly strict, imposing a cash freeze across all institutions regardless of their individual needs, legal obligations and Croatia’s accession to the EU.
My aim is to deliver a responsible budget for EU institutions. That is why I have tried to stick to the position set out by commissioner Lewandowski earlier this year, an increase of 1.9 per cent, in line with inflation.
Last week my colleagues and I on parliament’s budget committee last week voted to freeze the budget in real terms for 2013. However, as this freeze includes the extra €8.9m needed for Croatian accession, the EP’s budget will effectively be cut in real terms for next year. In order to achieve this a range of savings and many strategies were adopted, including freezing members’ individual allowances until the end of the mandate, cutting the travel budget for staff and members by five per cent and reducing expenditure for the house of European history.
As rapporteur on the parliament’s budget, I believe this is a realistic yet responsible approach. I believe the position taken by the parliament has demonstrated that it is possible to make savings and ensure the parliament remains an effective, efficient institution. The majority of institutions have also demonstrated restraint by making savings and cutbacks to limit their budget increase to 1.9 per cent, including the costs of Croatian accession. As with the parliament budget, a number of measures have been taken to generate savings. These include reducing the amount spent on building and rental costs, implementing more energy efficient measures and reducing the number of organised meetings and conferences. I welcome efforts made, particularly by smaller institutions which have smaller budgets, to stick to 1.9 per cent including Croatia.
Of course, once the parliament’s position has been adopted in plenary at the end of this month, the real challenge begins. With budgets in member states tight, and austerity measures being imposed on many, the council will certainly battle to curb any increase in this year’s budget. I will fight to make sure that those institutions most in need of targeted increases, like the External Action Service and the European Court of Justice, get what they need to ensure the smooth running of their institutions and the best service for citizens across Europe.
Derek Vaughan is parliament's co-rapporteur for the general budget of 2013