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Budget Council Meeting

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 25 November 1982

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on the outcome of the Budget Council held on 22 November.

I represented the United Kingdom at the Budget Council on 22 November which met to consider the European Parliament's amendments and modifications to the draft 1983 Community budget.The Council was preceded by a meeting with a delegation from the European Parliament. The delegation explained the Parliament's overall approach to the 1983 Community budget and its priorities within it. Its main priorities are action to combat unemployment and action on hunger in the world. Ministers explained their Government's general attitudes to the Parliament's proposals; a number of them said that the Community budget could not be considered in isolation from the priorities and constraints reflected in national budgets.The Council then met to consider the Parliament's amendments and modifications. There was prolonged discussion on the extent of the provision for non-obligatory expenditure. The margin available to the Parliament within the maximum rate amounted, in the Council's view to 331 million ecu for commitments and 261 million ecu for payments. The amendments to non-obligatory expenditure adopted by the Parliament amounted to 1457 million ecu for commitments and 674 million ecu for payments. I urged the Council to agree to an increase in the maximum rate in order to allow significant further increases in the provision for the social fund and the regional development fund.The Council eventually agreed to a margin for the Parliament of 88 million ecu for commitments and 64 million ecu for payments in addition to the margin already available according to the Council's calculation. Within the total the Council agreed to increases for the social fund compared with the draft budget of 248·5 million ecu in commitments and 192·6 million ecu in payments; and for the regional development fund of 100 million ecu in commitments and 80 million ecu in payments.The Government's approach to the discussion reflects both a desire to see Community finance playing an effective role in helping to alleviate the effects of unemployment; and the need, after the experience of a series of disputed budgets in recent years, to reach an acceptable accommodation with the European Parliament on the 1983 budget and the 1982 supplementary budget.