Kenny to attend talks on EU budget impasse
Taoiseach and Tánaiste to fly to Brussels today for high-level talks
The intervention by Taoiseach Enda Knny is an indication of the gravity of the budget situation, with European Parliament sources suggesting a second vote by MEPs might not take place until after the Irish presidency. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore fly to Brussels today for talks with the head of the European Commission and European Parliament in a bid to resolve an escalating political impasse over the EU’s seven-year budget.
The 27 member states of the EU reached agreement on a €960 billion budget for 2014 to 2020 in February, but the budget was rejected the following month by MEPs.
While discussions between the European Council and European Parliament were scheduled to begin late last month, the parliament cancelled a scheduled meeting with the Tánaiste, the lead negotiator on those discussions, less than two weeks ago.
The intervention by the Taoiseach is an indication of the gravity of the situation, with European Parliament sources suggesting a second vote by MEPs might not take place until after the Irish presidency.
Securing agreement on the so-called multiannual financial framework is a priority of the Irish presidency of the European Council. It is also a prerequisite for unlocking billions of euro worth of EU funding to member states in January.
While formal talks with the parliament have been delayed, informal contact between the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and high-level officials, including European Parliament president Martin Schulz, has been taking place in the past 10 days in a bid to break the deadlock.
The parliament must endorse the multiannual budget, which will govern income and expenditure between 2014 and 2020.
Having initially pressed for a higher budget than €960 billion, the parliament is seeking amendments including flexibility in transferring funds between year, a midterm review of the framework and new streams of revenue to fund the budget in the future.
The key stumbling block is disagreement on a draft amending budget for 2013 to cover the EU’s budgetary shortfall for this year. The parliament is demanding that member states sign up to the €11.2 billion shortfall proposed by the commission.
While the issue is usually discussed towards the end of the year, the Irish presidency has put it on the agenda for next week’s meeting of finance ministers .
Tonight’s meeting, which will be attended by Mr Schulz and the head of the commission, José Manuel Barroso, has been described as “crucial” by sources in Brussels.