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EU “External” budget: very political scissors

©NGV / B2(BRUSSELS2 in Strasbourg) The European Parliament today approved in 'plenary' its proposal for the 2012 budget which includes a recalibration of the European Union's “external relations” budget. In particular: increase in the budget for Palestine and decrease in the budget for Afghanistan. Also read: The budget of the Eupol Afghanistan mission sacrificed on the budgetary altar. A “small gap” separates it from what governments have voted for. Trilogue meetings are taking place and conciliation meetings are scheduled for November 8 and 18.

Targeted cuts

For Roberto Gualtieri, the rapporteur “Foreign Affairs” of the Budget Committee, with whom I was able to discuss for many minutes, this resizing is not due to chance but to awareness: “ we all face austerity policies. If we increase somewhere, we must decrease elsewhere. It was painful. But we took our responsibilities. We have to make choices, identify our priorities. » So these are " very political choices " to which the European Parliament has led, choices that lead to " define our priorities ».

The criterion: where Europe has a strategic, decision-making role

“We have identified well-targeted cuts,” explains R. Gualtieri. The criterion was to see where “ the EU has a primordial, decisive or leading role and where it only has a complementary role ».

La Palestine belongs to the first category. " It would have been difficult to cut the budget by more than a third at a decisive moment ", while the Quartet, Catherine Ashton is trying to push for a solution, and at a time when the (US) Congress has already cut the budget. Hence the increase in the budget by 100 million (which in fact restores the cut made in the proposal).

La Georgia and Kosovo also fall into this first category. For the EUMM (observation) or Eulex (rule of law) missions, it was thus difficult to cut because these operations are “ part of the strategy defined by the EU » and Europe is in a “leading” position on these subjects. The budget therefore remains unchanged.

Decline where the EU is not in a leading position

On the other hand, for Afghanistan, it is indisputable that the European Union does not have a leading role. “ It complements an already existing strategy established by others. (NB: a strategy that doesn't really work anyway). We cannot change its course. At best, we can accompany him ". " EUPOL Afghanistan is doing a good job – we recognize it and we support it say the MEPs. But you have to make a choice.

Le bloodshed of the deputies on the preparatory measures

The cut on preparatory measures (for missions) responds to a bloodbath from deputies. The Council refused Parliament's proposal to be consulted on future EU missions, it just accepted that Parliament's views would be “taken into account” in the discussion. “This is a real breach of the Madrid agreement,” believes R. Gualtieri, who is also the coordinator for the Social and Democratic Party on defense and security issues. Parliament therefore brought out very political scissors, as an ultimatum. As long as the EP is reduced to the minimum on future defense and security policy choices, it will be reluctant to give more budget.

The cut on emergency measures corresponds to more technical data. In the EEAS budget presentation document, these are referred to as “reserves”. So it seems less necessary.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

One thought on “EU “External” budget: very political scissors"

  • From La Boisserie

    The European Parliament has demonstrated its desire to become a major political player in the Union at a time when Cathy Ashton and the EEAS are demonstrating their inability to define a clear strategy and assert the political autonomy of the Union !
    He uses his budgetary power wisely!
    Congratulations to Roberto Gualtieri and to the competent committees of the EP for this responsible political act!

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