European Parliamentarians have voted against an EU budget deal struck by national leaders in February.
506 MEPs voted for a resolution to reject plans agreed at the February’s European Council meeting, with 161 MEPs opposing and 23 abstaining. The agreement in February would have seen EU spending cut by £30bn over the next seven years.
Parliamentarians took issue with the budget proposals due to payment shortfalls, with budget black holes meaning severeal EU programmes like Erasmus, the Research Framework Programme and the Social Fund, ran out of funds early this year.
They insisted that unpaid bills from 2012 need to be settled before concluding negotiations on the EU’s future budget and called for an undertaking from the European Council that all 2013 bills would be paid in 2013, so there is no “deficit” rolling over into the future budgetary plans.
The matter now moves the deal back to the European Council, made up of the 27 national leaders, which meets in Brussels tomorrow and Friday. A revised budget is set to be sent back to MEPs in June.
European Parliament president Martin Schulz hailed the rejection of the budget, for the first time that MEPs have voted on how the money is spent, as “an important day and an important step for democracy”.
“It is quite normal on a national frame that a government makes a proposal on a budget to the parliament, and the parliament makes a decision,” he said, adding that it was “often the case and normal that the parliament refuses the first proposal. Parliament wants to be taken seriously.”
A European Parliament official told LondonlovesBusiness.com that the move wasn’t “final” in opposing the EU Budget vote and served as a “positioning vote”. Meanwhile, a UKIP spokesman said that Parliament’s vote was “flicking fingers back at the council”.
Meanwhile, Tory MEP Daniel Hannanplayed down the importance of the MEPs’ vote, saying “they’ll chicken out when the moment comes”.
@asabenn Non-binding resolution. They’ll chicken out when the moment comes.
— Daniel Hannan (@DanHannanMEP) March 13, 2013
UKIP economics spokesman Godfrey Bloom MEP said:
“We want to close the account and cancel our 53 million pounds per day standing order to the European Union. UKIP voted against the Council agreement because it would have cost the UK more money in the end. We don’t want to pay these fat bureaucrats a penny piece.
“We also voted against the European Parliament call for more spending. This is even more ridiculous than the Council position.”
Labour MEPs voted along with the Tories to support the prospective cuts to the EU budget, with London Labour MEP Mary Honeyball saying: “At a time when everyone else has to make cuts, it’s only right that we do the same thing.”
In the European Parliament, Labour MEPs voted FOR the EU budget – and AGAINST resolution passed to reject budget
— Emma Reynolds (@EmmaReynoldsMP) March 13, 2013
This comes after EU member state leaders hammered out a deal in February, to which European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned he would seek a vote over:
“As President of the European Parliament, whose signature is required for the definitive adoption of the budget, I cannot, will not and, indeed, may not accept what amounts to deficit budgets.
“Savings made in the EU budget are savings made in the wrong place, because the EU budget is one of the most powerful sources of investment in Europe, a source of investment which people now need more than ever. We are talking about massive real cuts. I don’t know if this can be described as realistic financial planning.”
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