Strasbourg (France) (AFP) – The European Parliament approved the EU’s first ever trimmed-back long-term budget Tuesday after months of acrimonious dispute between EU institutions on spending cuts for the 2014-2020 period.
The budget was approved by a large majority of 682 MEPs, including the conservatives and the socialists. The Greens and the radical left voted against.
Known as the Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF), it provides for 908 billion euros in payments against 960 billion euros in funding commitments, 3.7 percent and 3.5 percent less than in the previous 2007-2013 budget.
The last step for the European Union’s seven-year blueprint, which sets out the 28-nation bloc’s spending priorities according to its economic and political aims, will be formal approval in the next days by EU states.
Tuesday’s vote marks the end of a bitter battle in which the budget went back and forth between austerity-minded governments and the EU’s executive European Commission and MEPs, who wanted more funds to boost growth and jobs.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz, a German Socialist, welcomed the vote, saying it would allow EU funds to flow on time from January 1.
“It means much needed EU funds can be invested into programs ranging from combating youth unemployment, support for less-well off regions in the EU via the structural funds, to much needed funding in research and development and support for agriculture.”
But he reiterated that “the amounts available from the MFF are far from perfect” with “higher amounts” that “would have boosted a job-rich recovery”.
MEPs voted 537 in favor, 126 against and with 19 abstentions.