MEPs have increased the EU budget by €4.8 billion for next year, handing the tax payer an even bigger bill.
A provisional agreement on the EU budget for 2015 which included settling unpaid bills for this year was reached by negotiators on Monday.
It still needs to be approved by all MEPs when they meet in Strasbourg next week but since it is an increase rather than a cut they are being offered, they are likely to vote it through.
This new deal pushes the budget commitments for the bloc to €145.3 billion in spending commitments, which include projects such as the two parliament buildings, an EU jobs portal to allow vacancies to advertise jobs in other EU countries and an EU fruit scheme for school children costing some €20 million.
But even with the massive increase which, it has been estimated, will cost Britain another £100million each year for the next five years, there are still unpaid bills which will need funding.
The delegation leader, French Liberal MEP Jean Arthuis, said he sympathised with governments having to tell voters that there are bills which need paying, but pointed out that the Council agreed to the spending in the first place.
“We know member states’ difficulties, but it was the member states themselves which agreed to enter into contracts that need to be paid. The bills of the EU are also part of their debt” the Chairman of the Budgets Committee said.
The total amount of pending claims rose from €5 billion in 2010 to €23.4 billion at the start of this year and, say the Parliament press office, without the ‘top-up’ that Parliament fought for, it would rise further, threatening an eventual collapse of the budget.
However, the problems do not end there, even when Euro MPs vote through the huge annual budget when they meet in the Alsace capital for the Christmas session. “We have to know how the Commission wants to wind down the backlog by 2016” said a Belgian MEP.
Parliament’s negotiators agreed to the 2015 budget on condition that the Commission presents a plan to reduce the amount of the unpaid bills to a sustainable level by 2016. This will have to be done by sourcing more money from either its own resources, such as money from VAT across the continent, or charging national governments.
Despite many countries in the EU still suffering high rates of unemployment and perilously low levels of growth and investment – and there even being talks of a triple dip recession – greedy MEPs still demanded that the EU budget was increased. This has meant while countries, including the UK, are running budget deficits and still adding to their national debts, the 2015 budget will rise by 1 per cent in total.
Of that amount, six per cent, or €8.7 billion, goes on running the numerous buildings and paying salaries of politicians and civil servants as well as the subsidised restaurants, allowances and chauffeur driven cars.
The draft budget is presented by the Commission and amended by the Council and the Parliament.