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EU Commission set to propose 6.8% increase for 2013 EU budget

25 Apr 2012

The European Commission will present its draft budget for 2013 later today, with Reuters reporting that, according to leaked copy, it will ask member states and the European Parliament for a €9bn increase in spending, equivalent to an increase of 6.8%. The Telegraph reports that the UK’s share of this increase will amount to £890m. The Commission is expected to justify the increase on the basis that the EU is legally bound to honour spending commitments made in previous years, particularly in the area of the structural and cohesion funds. The proposal will largely set the tone for negotiations over the EU’s next seven year budget which are also taking place today.

reports that the EU Commission is withholding payments from already allocated EU funds for 20 member states leading to accusations that it is a political ploy intended to prepare the ground for a cut in the overall budget for regional policy. Open Europe’s Pawel Swidlicki is quoted as saying, “Rather than striking backroom deals regarding funds that have already been committed, the whole budget needs to be re-designed to deliver better value for money for all European taxpayers. The structural funds have the biggest potential for delivering growth in the new member states so that is where they should be focused, whereas significant savings could be found by completely devolving them for wealthier member states.”

Meanwhile, Open Europe’s briefing on the cost and effectiveness of the EU’s 52 quangos was covered by Austrian financial daily Wirtschaftsblatt and by Berliner Umschau.

Separately, the Bank of Greece said yesterday that it expects the Greek economy to contract by 5% this year, above its previous estimate of 4.5% given only a few weeks ago, but said that achieving a primary surplus next year still looks possible. Greek Central Bank Governor George Provopoulos also warned that if the new government does not adhere to the scheduled reform programme, Greece’s place in the eurozone will come under threat.
Les Echos Les Echos 2 Reuters BBC Telegraph EUobserver EUobserver 2 Rzeczpospolita Berliner Umschau WirtschaftsBlatt Open Europe Research: Off Target Open Europe Research: EU Quangos FT CityAM WSJ EUobserver Kathimerini IHT 2 CityAM 2 WSJ 2 WSJ 3 WSJ 4 Telegraph WSJ 5 FT 2 Le Figaro IHT EUobserver ORF Handelsblatt Welt Leader Business Week FTD FT: Wolf FT: Plender FT: King Telegraph: Hannan Guardian: Jenkins Telegraph: Evans-Pritchard

Government to opt in to new EU data sharing rules despite criticism from backbench MPs
The Government last night won a vote in the Commons 267 to 24, a majority of 243, to opt in to revised EU data protection rules, which would for example place new requirements on police forces to disclose what data they hold on suspects. The new Directive would replace legislation covered by the UK’s ‘block opt-out’ of EU police and crime law, which allows it to pull out of up to 130 of these laws in 2014.

George Eustice MP argued, “The Government's own impact assessment raised serious concerns about the administration cost of this directive” and Dominic Raab MP said the new rules would add “to the costs of police forces on the front line." Opting in will mean that the UK can no longer opt out of the existing version of EU data protection rules in Police and Judicial Cooperation.
Hansard Open Europe research Mail

Dutch caretaker government insists it will meet deficit target despite failing to gain parliamentary support so far
Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager insisted yesterday that the caretaker government would still submit its plan for cutting the budget deficit to 3% to the Commission by 30 April as scheduled. The Dutch parliament held a debate on the issue yesterday during which caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte suggested elections could be held on 12 September, and appealed to all parties to support the budget plans, stressing that Netherlands could face a fine of up to €1.2bn if it failed to implement the necessary budget cuts.

The best hope looks to be support from three centre-left parties, the Christian Union, GreenLeft, and the left-liberal D66 party, although they stopped short of backing the government plans yesterday. Diederik Samsom, leader of the PVDA party, called for Netherlands to submit a budget deficit target of 3.6% in 2013, which he claimed was allowed in exceptional circumstances by EU rules, but this option was rejected by Rutte. Elsevier Political editor Syp Wynia warns that “the end of the euro will come very soon” if the Netherlands is fined for breaking the rules while Greece is rewarded with additional bailouts. Despite the uncertainty, the Netherlands was able to sell almost €2bn in bonds yesterday with borrowing costs almost unchanged from previous auctions.

Separately in a report presented to MEPs yesterday the Dutch Court of Auditors argued that the eurozone's bailout funds, EFSF and ESM, lack transparency and democratic oversight and accountability.
Volkskrant Volkskrant 2 NRC FT CityAM WSJ EUobserver Le Monde Irish Independent El País Le Monde FT: Steinglass FT Editorial Elsevier: Wynia

Le Pen to encourage abstention in second round;
Sarkozy dismisses FN presence in government
Front National leader Marine Le Pen, who gained 18% in the first round of France’s Presidential elections, will declare her position on the second round on May 2 next week. She is widely expected to encourage her supporters to abstain from voting. The party’s vice president, Louis Aliot, said yesterday that it was “neither desirable nor possible” for Le Pen to meet incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy between the two rounds.

In an interview with France Info this morning, Sarkozy stressed that the UMP would refuse to appoint a Front National minister, or come to an agreement with the far-right party. The incumbent is currently embroiled in a media furore after left-wing daily Liberation published an alleged quote by the President on its cover, declaring that “Le Pen is compatible with the Republic”. Le Monde and Liberation stand by the quote, which Sarkozy has denied making.

Socialist candidate Francois Hollande continues to lead in poll predictions, with 54% of vote intentions against Sarkozy’s 46% share, according to an OpinionWay-Fiducial poll for Les Echos published this morning.
Les Echos Les Echos 2 Aaronovitch: Times Times Times 2 Leader: Times Le Monde Le Monde 2 Le Monde 3 Le Figaro Guardian Telegraph Mail: Alexander

Le Monde reports that the Greek authorities have discovered 200,000 cases of state pension fraud costing Greece €800m a year.
Le Monde

EUobserver reports that diplomats from 'new' member states applying for jobs in the EU Foreign Service are consistently losing out to candidates from ‘old’ states and to existing EU officials.

The European Data Protection Supervisor has criticised the EU’s Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA Treaty) for bringing about "unacceptable consequences for fundamental rights", reports Euractiv.de.

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