• 27 OCT 2011
By Dean Carroll | Public Service Europe
The European Parliament has voted for a 5.2 per cent increase in its budget just as political leaders prepare to inflict major pain on troubled eurozone countries like Greece and Italy in a key summit later today. In 2012, the EP's "budget for growth" would total €133.1bn – if given final approval. The proposed increase was adopted with 431 votes in favour, 120 against and 124 abstentions.
Further consultation on the figure will take place during November before the budget is finalised, with agreement from the European Council, in December. The European Commission had proposed an increase of 4.9 per cent for the EP, while the council wanted to limit the increase to 2 per cent. If the EP gets its way - the biggest spending increases would occur in the areas of research and development, cohesion and structural funds and "freedom, security and justice" - due to "growing needs to manage refugee and migration flows and step up maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean". A parliament spokesman claimed that MEPs wanted to "spend only slightly more than the commission originally proposed".
European People's Party group budget rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes defended the proposed Budget – claiming: "Real cuts have been made for the budget of all EU institutions for 2012. Expenditure on administration for all EU institutions represents only 5.6 per cent of the global EU budget for 2012. The European Parliament and the other European Institutions want to achieve their objectives with sustainable growth and recruiting new staff with fewer financial resources. We are doing more with fewer resources. This budget is the minimum possible level of increase that we can have, in order to be able to accomplish the European project." But UK Independence Party MEP Godfrey Bloom suggested that the budget should be cut "deeply", rather than bolstered with an increase. Bloom said the plan was "scandalous", adding: "It is a slap in the face for all those enduring hardship at home. It is not enough that we freeze the EU budget, it must be slashed. It is risible that - while the EU is demanding and enforcing national budget slashing in Greece, Ireland and Portugal - they all want to increase the taxpayer money allocated to itself."
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