The European Parliament (EP) adopted this Wednesday the EU budget for 2016, setting commitment appropriations at EUR 155 billion and payment appropriations at EUR 143.9 billion, according to a press release. PE’s focus in allocating the budget was on immigration and enhancing competitiveness with the Parliament securing “the maximum amount of funding possible for migration and refugees, small and medium sized enterprises, students, and the EU research program Horizon2020,” reads the press release.
The ongoing refugee and migration crisis gained special focus with the Parliament saying that it made sure that all the resources available in the EU’s multiannual financial framework (MFF) will be used to address this problem which “needs to be tackled both within the member states and in countries close to the conflicts from which migrants are fleeing”. The agreement includes EUR 1.6 billion on top of the Commission’s original proposal, and meets “most of Parliament’s demands”.
“In a separate vote, on an amendment to the budget for the current year, Parliament asks member states to devote a windfall of EUR 2.3 billion derived from competition fines and higher-than-expected customs duties to finance the shortfall, also EUR 2.3 billion, in meeting their pledges to the Africa Trust Fund (to deal with the root causes of migration) and the Syria Trust Fund (helping refugees and migrants in and near Syria),” reads the press release.
In order to boost competitiveness, another priority in drafting this year’s budget, was in allocating extra resources for small and medium-sized enterprises (EUR14.3 million), funds for Horizon2020 (EUR 184.5 million) and funds for the infrastructure tool Connecting Europe Facility (EUR 150 million) to reinstate some of the money previously diverted from them to the Juncker Investment Fund, and funding for the student exchange programme Erasmus+ (EUR 6.6 million), reads the press release.
Parliament adopted the budget by 516 votes to 179, with 8 abstentions. It was then signed into law by President Martin Schulz.