The Economic and Financial Affairs Council—Budget, was reconvened in Brussels on 13 November, following the suspension of talks on 9 November.
In the Council’s Session, Member states were asked to agree to fund Draft Amending Budget 5, an application to the EU solidarity fund to provide €670 million in post-earthquake assistance to Italy, with fresh payments from member states. For the UK, I made clear that the bill should not be met by increasing contributions from member states, but by finding redeployments in the budget. However, the Draft Amending Budget 5 was formally approved with a qualified majority, despite the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands voting against.
At the Conciliation Committee, the European Parliament refused to enter into further negotiations with the Council on Draft Amending Budget 6 or the 2013 budget. The European Parliament walked away from the negotiation arguing that the Council had not made enough progress on Draft Amending Budget 6.
The 21-day conciliation period for agreeing the budget has now expired and the scope for negotiations on the basis of the current Commission proposal on the 2013 Budget has ended. The next step is for the Commission to come forward with a new proposal for the 2013 annual budget.
In the Council, the UK has made it very clear that the Commission and the European Parliament should not be asking taxpayers for extra funds when spending in member states is being reduced. We will continue to work with like-minded countries to press for budget discipline and fairness for taxpayers in the UK and Europe.