Commissioners warned: Time for hard decisions on responsible budgeting

01-Dec-2014 @ 9:0

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The EU Commission has been warned it is time for tough choices to bridge the widening gap between its spending commitments and available money.

Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth issued the caution after the Commission published its new proposals for the EU's 2015 budget. The revised plans were rapidly drawn up last week after negotiations between national governments and the European Parliament over an initial draft ended in stalemate.

Conservatives welcomed some aspects of the new proposals, including a reduction in overall payments, but remained concerned about the continuing lack of will to tackle the structural problem which sees the EU burdened with ever larger unpaid bills as commitments outstrip planned payments.

Mr Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South East and spokesman on budgets, said: "On the one hand, this budget is a step in the right direction with a renewed focus on jobs and growth. It also sees a cut of 800 million in the level of payments when compared with the original Commission proposal, plus a larger  margin for contingencies.

"However, it does little to address the longer-term health of the EU budget and how it is managed...There is still still the problem of unpaid bills left over from 2014 which will eat into that contingency margin. 

"A contingency buffer is not really worth its name if it ends up going on foreseeable expenditure."

"Until the Commission starts to make hard choices about how we are going to get our house in order in the longer term, there will be no solution to the payment gap and ever increasing unpaid bills. The EU budget will only become more unsustainable."

Budget negotiations between the EU Council and European Parliament will begin on Tuesday.

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