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EU Budget Must Be Focused On COVID-19 Recovery, MEPs Say

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COVID-19 recovery must be the priority for the upcoming 2022 EU Budget in order to lay the foundations for a far more resilient European bloc. 

In a vote on Tuesday, the Committee on Budgets confirmed that this year’s budget will tally around €1.43 billion altogether.

MEPs also increased funding for many programmes and policies, which they see as contributing to the post-pandemic recovery. These include the Horizon Europe research programme (+305 million above the Commission’s draft budget), the Connecting Europe Facility, which funds the construction of high-quality and sustainable trans-European transport, energy and digital networks (+207 million), and the environment and climate action LIFE programme (+171 million).

Support for young people remains a key priority: Erasmus+ has been increased by 137 million, equivalent to an additional 40,000 mobility exchanges, and 700 million was added to the draft budget to support the implementation of the European Child Guarantee. EU4Health is also reinforced, with an additional 80 million to build up a strong European Health Union and strengthen the resilience of national health systems.

Members of the Committee on Budgets reinforced funding for humanitarian aid by 20% and boosted the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, especially in light of the situation in Afghanistan. They also bolstered the Covax initiative for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. In the domain of security and defence, MEPs increased the relevant budget lines by more than 80 million.

“The European budget for next year will affect every region, every sector and every generation in Europe. We have worked for several months to reach a clear and strong position with the aim to push the post-pandemic recovery further. With this position, we have to convince our colleagues in the Council that the investment in recovery has no alternative and that these are the expectations of our citizens,” Karlo Ressler, general rapporteur for the EU budget 2022, said.

The figures for the budget as adopted by the committee will be available shortly and MEPs will vote on an accompanying resolution on 11 October. The whole Parliament will vote on its position on the 2022 draft budget during the 18-22 October plenary session.

This will launch three weeks of “conciliation” talks with the Council, with the aim of reaching a deal in time for next year’s budget to be voted on by Parliament and signed by its President at the end of November.

The EU budget is unique. Unlike national budgets, which are used in large part for providing public services and funding social security systems, the EU budget is primarily an investment budget.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Julian is the Editor at Lovin Malta with a particular interest in politics, the environment, social issues, and human interest stories.

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