Austerity Looms in Next Year’s EU Draft Budget

     (CN) – EU member states will see a slight increase in payments from Brussels in 2013 under a draft budget approved by the European Council on Wednesday.
     The council’s representative committee, composed of ambassadors from all 27 member states, said the draft budget reconciles the need to stimulate growth in the wilting European economy and the budget constraints of national governments.
     Two kinds of appropriations are listed in the budget: “commitments,” which are pledges by the EU to finance specific activities provided member states meet specific guidelines for receiving the money, and “payments,” the actual expected transfer of money to member states.
     The budget would raise commitments 1.27 percent over last year to more than $183 billion. Payments would increase 2.97 percent to more than $162 billion.
     Activities funded by the payments fall into five major budget headings: Sustainable Growth; Preservation and Management of Natural Resources; Citizenship, Freedom, Security and Justice; the EU as a Global Player; and Administration.
     To fund an 8 percent increase in economic development activities for the least developed member countries, as well as a 5 percent increase in border security and immigration, the budget makes stiff cuts to public health, consumer protection and foreign-policy programs.
     Under the Lisbon Treaty, the council’s draft budget forms the basis for negotiations between the rotating presidency of the EU and the European Parliament.
     Parliament can either adopt the draft budget or adopt amendments kicking off a three-week reconciliation period beginning no later than Oct. 24. At the end of the reconciliation period, either the budget will be approved or the council must submit a new draft.

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