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EU Budget 2018 to focus on what citizens expect from EU

BRUSSELS: The European Parliament today approved the 2018 EU budget that will reach €160.1 billion in commitments and €144.7 billion in payments.

After long negotiations with the EU Finance Ministers, led by the EPP Group, the 2018 EU budget will deliver on what the EU citizens expect from Europe: jobs and growth on the one hand and security on the other.

“We succeeded in delivering additional funds for the areas that enhance our growth potential and support job creation. By investing in research, infrastructure, education and SMEs, we will become more competitive and future-oriented. €11.2 billion for Horizon 2020 means that more researchers will obtain financing for their ideas that will bring Europe forward. €2.3 billion for Erasmus+ will grant more scholarships to EU students and enable them to get to know the EU better”, stated Siegfried Mureşan MEP, Parliament’s Chief Negotiator for the EU 2018 budget.

José Manuel Fernandes MEP, the EPP Group’s Spokesman in the Budgets Committee, expressed his “full surprise” at the behaviour of the Socialist MEPs who abstained in the final vote. “There is no justification for their abstention, as this budget strengthens measures for employment, youth, research and innovation, internal and external solidarity. Does this mean that they don’t care about all that?”, Fernandes said.

“How can you abstain on the security and safety of EU citizens? Further strengthening the EU Agencies in the field was one of the main points of next year’s budget. The EPP Group believes that there can be no sustainable growth and job creation if EU citizens and companies feel unsafe or insecure”, he added.

Another achievement of the 2018 EU budget is “the enforcement of Europol and Eurojust to better ensure cooperation and coordination in fighting terrorism and organised crime across the EU”, explained Mureşan.

The 2018 EU budget also reduces assistance to Turkey by €105 million compared to the Commission proposal and puts an additional €70 million in reserve pending progress in the respect for fundamental rights, media freedom and the freedom of speech. “The EPP Group has always championed that in order to obtain EU financing, our external partners must fulfil a set of criteria, such as respect of fundamental rights in these principles. Unfortunately, Turkey is drifting away from such principles and we have made it clear that EU support to third countries does not come without strings attached”, Mureşan added.

Today’s plenary vote resulted in 295 votes in favour, 154 against and 197 abstentions. “The S&D Group position to abstain on next year’s budget creates instability and concern for those who support the European project”, concluded Fernandes.

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