Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Budget 2013 debate

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has warned that the European Parliament cannot agree to the EU's budget for 2013 "at any cost and at any price".

He gave a statement to MEPs on 21 November 2012 following the breakdown of talks with the Council of Ministers - which represents EU governments - over next year's budget.

The main obstacle was the refusal of the Council to approve €9bn in extra funding for the current budget - known as an amending budget.

"Council was asking us to approve a deficit budget - we are not willing to negotiate in this way," Mr Schulz said.

The Commission will now have to redraft the 2013 budget plan, and amended proposals are due to be published by the end of November.

If there is no deal before January, the current budget will be rolled over month by month, in a system known as "provisional twelfths".

The financial hole of €9bn is believed to be the biggest shortfall ever, and would mainly be used to reimburse countries for money they have paid into the solidarity fund, the rural development fund and the cohesion fund.

One of the parliament's lead negotiators on the 2013 budget, Italian MEP Giovanni La Via said it was impossible to continue talks on next year's budget until the accounts for 2012 were fully closed.

Eight EU countries - including the UK, France and Germany - argue the shortfall should be made up from money in the existing budget for 2012.

The only area of agreement was a deal to boost the European Solidarity Fund to help regions of Italy affected by an earthquake earlier this year.

MEPs and the Commission want an EU budget rise of 6.8% in 2013, although the Council wants to limit the rise to just 2.8%.

British Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth said the dispute showed the need for greater scrutiny and control of estimates and costs provided by member states.

However he added that he was disappointed that some press reports had given the impression that it was the European Parliament who were refusing to co-operate unless they received more money.

"This dispute is a technical dispute," he said.

However Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen complained that most EU countries could not afford the €9bn required, and criticised the Commission for mismanagement of EU budgets.

"No more money should be granted for as long as the Commission refuses to produce reliable and concise information," she concluded.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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