EU negotiators agree 135.5 bln euro budget for 2014

EU negotiators agree 135.5 bln euro budget for 2014

BRUSSELS - Reuters
EU negotiators agree 135.5 bln euro budget for 2014

This file photo shows a view of the Berlaymont building, the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels, on the eve of a European Union summit. AFP photo

European Union spending will total 135.5 billion euros ($182 billion) in 2014 under a deal reached by EU negotiators yesterday, which included extra funds to fight soaring youth unemployment in the 28-nation bloc.

The deal, which cuts EU spending by about 6 percent from this year, is the first to reflect the new terms for EU budgets from 2014-20 agreed by the bloc’s leaders in February and had little room to maneuver on the overall figures involved.

The negotiators reached a deal of 142.6 billion euros for total commitments and 135.5 billion euros in payments for 2014.

“I’m glad that we could reach an agreement with the European Parliament on the financing of priority areas such as growth, employment, innovation and humanitarian aid,” said Algimantas Rimkunas, deputy finance minister for Lithuania, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

Focus on job creation

The deal reached after more than 16 hours of negotiations includes up to 3.9 billion euros to support job creation, training and apprenticeships for the estimated 19 million young Europeans currently out of work.

But critics say the extra cash is a drop in the ocean, working out at about 200 euros for every unemployed young person.

The vast majority of EU spending - around two thirds of the total - will be spent on subsidies for European farmers and investment projects such as road construction in the bloc’s poorer central and eastern European member states. The agreement must now be rubber-stamped by EU ministers and the full parliament before it can enter force.

The European Commission had originally proposed a budget of 136 billion euros for next year, which the parliament had sought to increase to 136.4 billion euros.The EU budget is equivalent to about 1 percent of the bloc’s annual gross domestic product - a small fraction of total EU government spending of almost 50 percent of GDP in 2012.