In an unusual move, the week was made up of two shorter plenary sessions, to comply with the EU's treaties. The first of the two sessions was dominated by financial matters, with MEPs rejecting an attempt by national governments to cut the EU's budget for 2013. The Commission, broadly backed by the Parliament, has said there should be a 6.85% rise in the EU's budget, but the Council of Ministers has said the rise should be limited to 2.79%. The current deadlock means that detailed talks will now begin, with the aim of reaching a deal in time for the December plenary session.
...and budget rows for the future
EU's long term budget under scrutiny
Attention also turned to the EU's next long-term budget, known in the EU jargon as the Multi-Annual Financial Framework, which runs from 2014 - 2020. The head of the Budgets Committee warned against freezing the budget "like a historic monument", urging increased spending in areas such as research and development. Many MEPs also called for the introduction of a financial transaction tax or greater use of EU VAT as a way of the EU raising money directly, rather than relying on national contributions.
Single market celebrations
MEPs mark the single market's anniversary
The EU's flagship single market was described as "Europe's biggest achievement", during a special debate in Strasbourg to mark its 20th anniversary. Single Market Commissioner Michel Barnier promised to deepen the market still further, with more liberalising and strengthened consumer rights. He received praise from much of the parliament, but it wasn't to everyone's liking; Dutch socialist Cornelis De Jong warned it was leading to "social dumping" with competition in working conditions. He urged the Commissioner to look into bringing in a European Minimum Wage.
UK criticised after EU summit
Strong words against David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron faced criticism from MEPs during a debate on the recent summit of EU leaders, with socialist group leader Hannes Swoboda accusing him of "heckling from far away". He argued that it was wrong for one country to hold up further economic integration, but Conservative group leader Martin Callanan retorted that the problem lay with a lack of EU leadership. The summit that took place earlier in the month saw the European Council - made up of EU heads of government - agree to set up a single eurozone banking supervisor, in what is being seen as the first step towards a banking union.
Erasmus funding fears
Is Erasmus under threat?
The future of the EU's long-running educational exchange scheme, Erasmus, was questioned by MEPs after serious doubts arose about its future funding. National governments were accused of failing to support Europe's young people by not supporting a budgetary increase to guarantee the scheme's survival. But Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen questioned whether the scheme had any merit, calling it to be scrapped. "If people want to use it, they should pay for it out of their own pockets and not put the burden onto European taxpayers," she concluded.
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