Conservatives resist "indisciplined" budget-grab by MEPs

23-Oct-2013 @ 17:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs dug in today to resist a move in theEuropean Parliament to hike up next year's EU budget by more than a billionpounds.

They voted solidly against a proposal from theparliament's Budget Committee to spend a massive €136 billion next year. Thefigure is €1.2 billion more than agreed by national government's through the EUCouncil, and even €211 million more than the sum demanded by the EU Commission.

Despite this proposal to increase the total budgetsignificantly, the committee also proposes to create extra spending power byeating into so-called "flexibility instruments" - the money set asideto cover emergencies and unforeseen expenditure.

Richard Ashworth, leader of Britain's Conservative MEPsand budget negotiator for the group, is spearheading resistance to the costlybid. He said: "The EU Council was absolutely right to propose a reducedbudget. In this difficult economic climate the people of Europe will expect noless.

"We must respond to tough times with resolve, notwith indiscipline."

He welcomed proposals to boost spending where it wasreally needed and said: "Top of the list must be jobs – particularly youthemployment – and growth. Research and development, and the digital economy aresurely the most urgent priorities. Tragic events in theMediterranean have highlighted the pressing need for the EU to reinforceefforts to protect its borders, particularly through the Frontex agency."

But he said those priorities must be met by redirectingspending, not by adding to the overall budget.

And he added: "Relying on the flexibility instrumentto overcome shortfalls is equally unwise. They should be kept in reserve forgenuinely unforeseen circumstances. To use them in this manner exposes thebudget to risk."

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