EU Lawmakers Agree to $175 Billion Budget Deal

     (CN) – A key committee of the Council of the European Union approved a $175 billion spending package for 2015 on Tuesday, an agreement that lawmakers say will stem the tide of red ink that besieged the EU since the 2008 global financial meltdown.
     The budget for 2015 – which must still be approved by the European Parliament’s budget committee as well as the full contingent of legislators from both houses – anticipates just under $175 billion on concrete spending. The agreement also sets the EU’s commitments, which are legal promises to spend money on certain projects in 2015 and beyond, at $180 billion.
     Spending on research, innovation and education saw a 38 percent increase in the budget agreement. And the EU will spend nearly $11 billion on its own administration, while giving just $2.3 billion to the security, immigration and justice sectors.
     The agreement also pads the current 2014 budget with an extra $4.33 billion to pay outstanding bills, although lawmakers said the increase is “more than offset by additional revenue from fines, the financial surplus from 2013 and the revised forecast of the EU’s own resources.”
     “The budget agreement approved today squares the circle between three crucial challenges: the need to address the backlog of payments, the importance not to jeopardize member states’ efforts to consolidate their public finance and the necessity to provide indispensable stimuli for creating jobs and generating growth in the future,” said Pier Carlo Padoan, the Italian finance minister and president of the council.
     Legislators from both the parliament and the council are expected to sign off on the budget by Christmas.
     By way of comparison, California governor Jerry Brown signed a $156 billion budget into law this past June.
     And while U.S. lawmakers haven’t passed an official budget in years, President Barack Obama requested a $3.9 trillion federal spending package for fiscal year 2015 in February.

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