EU ministers meet to revise budget accord
Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands resist budget disbursement increase
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton yesterday held the first formal negotiations with the European Parliament on the seven-year Multiannual Financial Framework in Brussels. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Irish officials will seek agreement on the EU’s draft amending budget for this year at today’s meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, amid some resistance.
The European Parliament has demanded that EU member states agree to disburse funds to make up the EU’s anticipated budgetary shortfall for this year, as a precondition for the commencement of separate talks on the EU’s seven-year budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). Typically, talks on the amended budget take place later in the year but, following a meeting between Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the presidents of the European Parliament and Commission last week, the Irish presidency agreed to put the issue on today’s agenda.
However, a number of states, including Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands, are strongly resisting an increase in budget disbursements for this year. “There is no objective justification for the increase”, one senior EU official said yesterday, adding it was too early to decide about a shortfall for the year.
The Irish presidency is proposing that a first tranche of €7.3 billion is approved by finance ministers today, followed by a second tranche later in the year. While the agreement can be passed by qualified majority voting, Germany is expected to be a key player in today’s negotiations.
Yesterday, Mr Gilmore and Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton held the first formal negotiations with the European Parliament on the seven-year MFF in Brussels. The Irish presidency is hoping agreement will be reached by the end of the term next month. Speaking after yesterday’s meeting evening in Brussels, Mr Gilmore said yesterday’s meeting had been “positive” and “productive”.
Asked whether he was confident that agreement would be reached between member states today on the draft amending budget for 2013, he said it was up to finance ministers to decide.