Text adopted – General budget of the European Union for 2018 – all sections – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0408 – Wednesday, 25 October 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(1)
,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(2)
,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(3)
(MFF Regulation),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(4)
(IIA of 2 December 2013),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2017 on general guidelines for the preparation of the budget(5)
,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2017 on Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2018(6)
,

–  having regard to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, which the Commission adopted on 29 June 2017 (COM(2017)0400),

–  having regard to the position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, which the Council adopted on 4 September 2017 and forwarded to Parliament on 13 September 2017 (11815/2017 – C8‑0313/2017),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget(7)
,

–  having regard to Rule 88 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0299/2017),

Section III

General overview

1.  Stresses that Parliament’s reading of the 2018 Budget fully reflects the political priorities adopted by an overwhelming majority in its abovementioned resolutions of 15 March 2017 and of 5 July 2017; recalls that sustainable growth, jobs, in particular youth employment, security and climate change are at the core of those priorities;

2.  Highlights that the Union continues to face numerous challenges and is convinced that, while maintaining budget discipline, the necessary financial resources must be deployed from the Union budget, in order to meet the political priorities and allow the Union to deliver concrete answers and to effectively respond to those challenges; underlines that Union spending should be based on the principle of European added value and should respect the principle of subsidiarity;

3.  Reaffirms its commitment to financing Union policies that enhance jobs and growth in all its regions through investment in research, education, infrastructure, SMEs and employment, in particular youth employment; fails to understand how the Union can achieve progress in those fields considering the cuts proposed by the Council under subheading 1a; decides instead to additionally reinforce research and innovation programmes that have a very high implementation rate and which, due to oversubscription, are faced with a particularly low success rate for applications;

4.  Remains committed to the pledges made by Parliament during the negotiations on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), namely to minimise the impact of EFSI-related cuts on Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in the framework of the annual budgetary procedure; proposes, therefore, to offset those cuts by restoring the original annual profile of those two programmes, in order to allow them to fully accomplish the objectives agreed during the adoption of the relevant legislation;

5.  Expresses its political support for the establishment of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) and welcomes the legislative proposal put forward in this regard by the Commission; considers, however, that, pending a decision on the financing of the ESC and the adoption of the relevant regulation under the ordinary legislative procedure, no financial provision should be entered for this purpose in the 2018 Budget; decides, therefore, that relevant appropriations and redeployments, entered by the Commission in the Draft Budget 2018 (DB), should be for the moment reversed, as the decision on the 2018 Budget should not prejudge in any way the outcome of the legislative negotiations; remains fully committed to integrate the decision on ESC financing in next year’s budget immediately via an amending budget, in case the negotiations on the relevant regulation are not concluded before the end of the 2018 budgetary procedure;

6.  Is concerned by the fact that youth unemployment remains at unprecedented levels and is convinced that, in order not to jeopardise the future of an entire generation of young Europeans, additional actions need to be undertaken; decides therefore to reinforce the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) beyond the level proposed by the Commission for 2018; stresses that such reinforcement should be considered as additional to the overall allocation that was politically endorsed for YEI in the context of the MFF mid-term revision, and not as a mere frontloading of that allocation in the 2018 Budget;

7.  Recalls that cohesion policy plays a primary role in achieving economic and social convergence in the Union, and thus in ensuring development and growth; stresses that in 2018, cohesion policy programmes are expected to catch-up and reach cruising speed; emphasises Parliament’s commitment to ensuring adequate appropriations for those programmes that represent one of the core policies of the Union; is however preoccupied by the unacceptable delays in the implementation of operational programmes at national level; calls on Member States to ensure that the designation of managing, auditing and certifying authorities is concluded and that implementation is accelerated; furthermore calls on the Commission to go further with the simplification of the related procedures;

8.  Is highly concerned at the rise of instability and uncertainty both within and outside the Union; insists on the need for a renewed focus on the Union’s approach to cohesion, integration, peace, sustainable development and human rights; calls upon the Commission and the Member States to connect and boost efforts towards further sustaining peace and conflict prevention; recalls the worldwide inspiration brought by the Good Friday Agreement while acknowledging the unprecedented challenges and pressures in the aftermath of the United Kingdom 2016 Referendum; calls upon the Commission and Member States to enhance their support for reconciliation to secure peace and stability in Ireland;

9.  Believes that, while at present the peak of the migratory and refugee crisis seems to have decreased, the Union must stand ready to respond to any future unforeseen event in this area and pursue a more proactive approach in the field of migration; therefore urges the Commission to continuously monitor the adequacy of allocations under Heading 3 and make full use of all available instruments under the current MFF to respond in a timely manner to any unforeseen event that might require additional funding; recalls that, while the Union managed to put in place some mechanisms helping to cope with this situation, still over one hundred thousand refugees and migrants have arrived to Europe by sea so far in 2017 according to the UNHCR; decides therefore to reinforce in a limited manner the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund, as well as the agencies with responsibilities in the field of asylum, such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which need to be provided with adequate financial and human resources; notes, once again, that the Heading 3 ceiling is vastly insufficient to provide for appropriate funding for the internal dimension of the migration and refugee crisis as well as other priority programmes, such as culture and citizenship programmes;

10.  Underlines that Heading 3 has been largely mobilised in recent years to address the migratory and refugee crisis and that such actions should continue for as long as needed; notes however that the funding provided so far is insufficient; decides for this reason to reinforce agencies in the field of Justice and Home Affairs which, due to increased workload and additional tasks, have been facing shortage of staff and funding in the past years;

11.  Underlines that, in light of recent security concerns across the Union, funding under Heading 3 should also have regard to measures which will lead to enhancing the security of Union citizens;

12.  Reiterates that an essential part of the solution to the migratory and refugee crisis as well as to the security concerns of Union citizens lie in addressing the root causes of migration and devoting sufficient financial means to external instruments that aim at tackling issues such as poverty, lack of employment, education and economic opportunities, instability, conflict and climate change which is one of the underlying causes behind increasing migration flows; is of the opinion that the Union should make an optimal use of financial means under Heading 4 which proved to be insufficient to equally address all external challenges, considering that the resources are clearly insufficient and should be increased in a more organic way;

13.  Regrets that, while preparing its position, Parliament has not been sufficiently informed about the budgetary impact of a possible political decision to extend the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT); reiterates its longstanding position that new initiatives shall not be financed to the detriment of existing EU external projects; calls therefore on the Commission, in the event of the prolongation of the FRT, to propose its financing through fresh means and involve more local NGOs in its implementation; notes that the Heading 4 ceiling is vastly insufficient to provide a sustainable and effective response to the current external challenges, including the migration and refugee ones;

14.  Recalls that the Union budget must support the fulfilment of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Union’s own long-term climate goals by achieving the target of 20 % climate spending in the 2014-2020 MFF; regrets that the Commission has failed to put forward concrete and realistic proposals to achieve these goals; therefore proposes increases above the level of the DB for climate-related actions; notes however that these increases are not sufficient and calls on the Commission to present all the necessary proposals to reach the goals in the forthcoming draft budgets; notes, in this context, that 8,2 % of total commitment appropriations proposed in the DB are related to biodiversity protection; highlights that an annual increase of 0,1 % stands in contrast to the worrying and accelerating decline in species and habitats;

15.  Appreciates that the new approach of ‘Budget Focused on Results’ has for the first time been integrated into the internal budgetary preparation of the Commission in order to review the expenditure based on experience achieved so far and identify possible adjustments;

16.  Restores the cuts proposed by Council to the DB; fails to understand the reasoning behind the proposed cuts, for example those to Horizon 2020 and CEF, two programmes already affected by redeployments to EFSI, as well as those to external policies; contests, in any event, Council’s declared intention to target budget lines with a low execution rate or absorption capacity, as this is not substantiated by the actual implementation figures and ignores the varying implementation patterns of certain programmes;

17.  Concludes that, for the purpose of adequately financing all pressing needs, and considering the very tight MFF margins in 2018, all means available in the MFF Regulation in terms of flexibility will need to be deployed; expects that the Council will share this approach and that an agreement will easily be reached in conciliation, allowing the Union to rise to the occasion and effectively respond to the challenges ahead; underlines that the deviation each budgetary year from the original programming under the current MFF advocates in favour of an upward adjustment of the ceilings in the MFF post-2020;

18.  Sets the overall level of appropriations for 2018 at EUR 162 597 930 901 in commitment appropriations and EUR 146 712 004 932 in payment appropriations;

Subheading 1a – Competitiveness for growth and jobs

19.  Rejects Council’s unjustified EUR 750 million cuts to subheading 1a, which alone represent almost two thirds of the overall Council cuts in commitments in MFF headings; notes that such cuts contradict Council’s own stated political priorities;

20.  Insists that in order to achieve sustainable growth and job creation in the Union, boosting investments in research, innovation, education, infrastructure and MSMEs is key; warns that such cuts proposed by the Council would jeopardise programmes with real European added value and a direct impact on job and growth creation, such as Horizon 2020 or CEF; points out, in particular, that sufficient funding for Horizon 2020 is essential to allow for the development of research and innovation, leadership in digitalisation and for the support of SMEs in Europe; recalls that this programme has demonstrated a strong European added-value with 83 % of Horizon 2020-funded projects that would not have gone ahead without Union-level support; reiterates the importance of the CEF funding instrument for the completion of the TEN-T network and for achieving a Single European Transport Area; consequently decides to reverse all cuts made by the Council and, furthermore, to fully restore the original profile of the Horizon 2020 and CEF lines that were cut for the provisioning of the EFSI Guarantee Fund;

21.  Stresses, in addition, the need to strengthen both the education and training and the youth strands of Erasmus+, as part of strategic investment in European youth;

22.  Stresses that sufficient financial support for microenterprises, entrepreneurs and SMEs should be the key priority for the Union as these are the main source of job creation across Europe; emphasises that securing good access to finance is essential for keeping SMEs competitive and for helping them to overcome challenges related to access to the internal market as well as to the global market;

23.  Decides, therefore, to further reinforce beyond the DB and the pre-EFSI and pre-ESC profiles those programmes that are key to boosting growth and jobs and that reflect widely agreed Union priorities, namely Erasmus+, Horizon 2020 (Marie Curie, European Research Council, SME Instrument), COSME, and EaSI (Progress and Eures); calls on the Commission to provide sufficient funding for budget lines related to WIFI4EU and to keep its investment commitment between 2017 and 2020;

24.  Welcomes the inclusion of the Special Annual Events budget line in the 2018 Budget, which will allow the development of a sense of European belonging among citizens; notes that the scope of the Special Annual Event should demonstrably serve the added value to the European citizens across the Member States;

25.  Stresses the importance of stimulating cooperative defence research in Europe for addressing key capability shortfalls at a time when international developments and uncertainties increasingly require Europe to step up its efforts on defence; supports the increased allocation for the Preparatory Action on defence research; calls for a defence research programme with a dedicated budget within the next Multiannual Financial Framework; reiterates, nevertheless, its longstanding position that new initiatives shall be financed through fresh appropriations and not to the detriment of existing Union programmes; underlines, furthermore, the need to improve the competitiveness and innovation in the European defence industry;

26.  Is of the opinion that increased resources should be allocated in the framework of the 2018 Budget in order to conduct a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the risk posed by third countries in terms of their strategic deficiencies in the area of anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, based on criteria defined in Article 9 of Directive (EU) 2015/849(8)
, and to establish a list of ‘high-risk’ jurisdictions;

27.  Calls on the Commission to ensure an adequate level of allocations enabling the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) to effectively perform its duties and tasks listed in Annex VII to Directive 2010/63/EU(9)
, with particular reference to coordinating and promoting the development and use of alternatives to animal testing including in the areas of basic and applied research and regulatory testing;

28.  As a result, increases the level of commitment appropriations for subheading 1a above the DB by EUR 143,9 million (excluding pre-EFSI and pre-ESC restoration, pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed within the margin available as well as a further mobilisation of the Global Margin for Commitments;

Subheading 1b – Economic, social and territorial cohesion

29.  Disapproves of Council’s proposed cuts of EUR 240 million in payments under subheading 1b, including on support lines and reverses them, pending updated forecasts from the Commission;

30.  Notes with increasing concern that the unacceptable delays in the implementation of the European Structural and Investment Funds have undermined their effectiveness and put pressure on the managing authorities and beneficiaries; reiterates once again the risk that the current delays can have on the accumulation of unpaid bills in the second half of this MFF and at the beginning of the next one; reiterates strongly its call on the Member States to seek advice and assistance from the Commission in order to address the delays in the designation of the managing, certifying and auditing authorities; is further alarmed by the downsize trend and the lack of accuracy of the Member States’ estimates;

31.  Recalls that youth unemployment rates remain unacceptably high in the Union; emphasises that, in order to address this issue, it is of importance to ensure proper funding of the Youth Guarantee schemes through the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the ESF; welcomes the agreement on the need to provide fresh funding for the YEI, and the inclusion of the corresponding appropriations in the DB 2018; considers nevertheless that, given the challenges and risks posed by youth unemployment, the YEI should benefit from increased appropriations and therefore decides to bring the YEI to EUR 600 million in commitments in 2018; moreover, considers that professional training actions, towards the youth and in particular the apprenticeship should be eligible for financing under the cohesion policy;

32.  Welcomes the new EUR 142,8 million financial envelope which has been created to facilitate the implementation of the Structural Reform Support Programme between 2017-2020;

Heading 2 – Sustainable growth: natural resources

33.  Recalls that the Commission’s proposal to increase appropriations to finance the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) needs are largely due to a significantly lower amount of assigned revenue being expected to be available in 2018; notes the Council’s cuts of EUR 275 million, but considers that the Commission’s Amending Letter should remain the basis for any reliable revision of EAGF appropriations and restores the DB levels accordingly, pending an examination of this Amending Letter in conciliation;

34.  Stresses that storage programmes have proved effective in times of crisis and that a reduction in the financial resources earmarked in the planning process would be counter-productive;

35.  Underlines that part of the solution to address youth unemployment lies in adequately supporting young people in rural areas; proposes therefore an increase of EUR 50 million above the level of the DB for payments for young farmers; emphasises the need to use the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and other Union funding schemes to facilitate young people’s access to jobs in the fishing industry;

36.  Decides, in line with its Europe 2020 targets and with its international commitments to tackle climate change, to propose an increase of EUR 21,2 million above the level of the DB for climate-related actions; reiterates that both the European Court of Auditors (ECA) as well as ECOFIN ascertained that the Union budget is not in line with its climate targets;

37.  Recalls that taxpayers’ money should not be used to support the rearing or breeding of bulls for fighting activities; believes that breeding or rearing for those purposes should not be eligible for basic payments and asks that the Commission submit a proposal in order to amend the current legislation on this issue;

38.  Increases therefore commitment appropriations by EUR 78,1 million, thus leaving a margin of EUR 619,7 million below the ceiling for commitments in Heading 2 once pilot projects and preparatory actions have been deducted;

39.  Emphasises, with regret, that disasters generally affect those who have less means to protect themselves, whether they be individuals or States; considers that the response to natural or man-made disasters should be as rapid as possible so that damage is minimal and people and property can be saved; calls attention to the need for an additional increase in funds, particularly in the budget lines linked to disaster prevention and preparedness within the Union, taking into account, in particular, fires in Spain and Portugal (resulting in tragic loss of human life), which have a dramatic and substantial impact on people;

40.  Draws attention to the threat factors weighing on numerous forest ecosystems, such as, among others, the spread of invasive alien species, pests (such as pine nematode and others) and forest fires; considers that sufficient financial resources should be addressed through community support programmes and measures to the evaluation of ecological and plant health of forests and their rehabilitation, including reforestation; notes that such resources are particularly important and urgent to some Member States, namely Portugal and Spain following previous successive fires throughout the national territory;

Heading 3 – Security and Citizenship

41.  Emphasises that for Parliament, tackling migration and security must remain top Union priorities and reiterates its conviction that the Heading 3 ceiling has proven vastly insufficient to fund adequately the internal dimension of those challenges;

42.  Notes that, while the number of migrant crossings on the Central and Eastern Mediterranean routes into the Union fell in the first nine months of 2017, pressure on the Western Mediterranean route remains; notes that more than one hundred thousand migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in the first nine months of 2017, with over 75 % arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain; is of the opinion that increased funding is needed to fully cover the needs of the Union in the field of migration, notably through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund to support Members States in improving integration measures and practices for those in need of international protection, especially unaccompanied minors, and, where necessary, carrying out return operations for those not entitled to protection while fully respecting the principle of non-refoulement; in this context also insists that the EASO shall be equipped with adequate financial and human resources to allow the agency to fulfil its assigned tasks;

43.  Is in favour of the creation of a new budget line for a Search and Rescue Fund to support Member States in their obligations under international maritime law; asks the Commission to present a legislative proposal to set up such an EU Search and Rescue Fund;

44.  Is convinced that, in order to effectively tackle security concerns of Union citizens, the budget of the Internal Security Fund needs additional funds to equip the Member States better in the fight against terrorism, cross-border organised crime, radicalisation and cybercrime; underlines, in particular, that sufficient resources must be provided for reinforcing security infrastructures and boosting information-sharing between law enforcement agencies and national authorities, including through improving the interoperability of information systems while guaranteeing at the same time respect for individual rights and liberties;

45.  Highlights the crucial role played by the Union agencies in the area of justice and home affairs in addressing pressing concerns of Union citizens; decides therefore to increase budgetary appropriations and staffing of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), including the creation of 7 staff posts for the new operating unit called Europol operating unit for missing children, as well as to reinforce the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), EASO and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL); reiterates the contribution of these agencies to enhancing cooperation between Member States in the field;

46.  Asks the Commission, in the light of the actual progress made in ongoing interinstitutional negotiations, to provide updated information on the financial implications in 2018 of pending legislative proposals as part of the European Agenda on Migration, in particular the reform of the Dublin system, the Entry/Exit System, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and EASO, so that it can be taken into account in the conciliation phase;

47.  Regrets Council’s arbitrary cuts of more than EUR 30 million in commitment appropriations to numerous programmes in the areas of culture, citizenship, justice, public health, consumer rights and civil protection, in disregard of these programmes’ excellent implementation rates and despite already insufficient levels of financing that leave many high-quality projects unfunded; restores all lines to the level of the DB and proposes additional increases to relevant lines;

48.  Reiterates its conviction that it is time to boost funding for important Union programmes in the areas of culture and citizenship, in particular Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens, which have a key role in supporting cultural and creative industries, as well as participatory citizenship, especially in view of the European elections in 2019; reiterates that all institutions must honour the political agreement found on the 2018 funding for the European Year of Cultural Heritage by providing sufficient appropriations for it through Creative Europe’s Culture sub-programme, in the absence of a separate budget line for the Year; calls on the Commission to review initiatives under the ‘multimedia actions’ budget line to ensure that the budget effectively supports high-quality independent coverage of Union affairs;

49.  Is in favour of increased transparency of and visibility for the Daphne objective of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, as a key Union tool in combatting all forms of violence against children, young people, women, LGBTI people and other at-risk groups; supports setting up a European monitoring centre on gender-based violence within the European Institute for Gender Equality;

50.  Reinforces Heading 3 by EUR 108,8 million in commitment appropriations above the DB, excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions, and proposes to finance these reinforcements by a further mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument;

Heading 4 – Global Europe

51.  Stresses once again that the Union’s external action is faced with ever growing funding needs which greatly exceed the current size of Heading 4; considers that the mobilisation of the Union budget to respond to the migration challenge will continue to require dynamic responses in the coming years; stresses that an ad hoc one-year increase, such as that in 2017, cannot be considered sufficient in view of the complex challenges that the Union is facing and the urgent need for stronger Union external presence in today’s global world;

52.  Is of the opinion that priority should be given to the Union’s immediate neighbours and to measures aimed at tackling the main issues they are facing, namely the migratory and refugee crisis and corresponding humanitarian challenges in the Southern Neighbourhood, and the Russian aggression in the Eastern Neighbourhood; believes that stability and prosperity of the Union Neighbourhood are beneficial to both the concerned regions and to the Union as a whole; reiterates its call to increase support to the Middle East Peace Process, the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA to cope with growing needs, in order to achieve the Union’s stated objective of promoting development and stability in the region and support the resilience of Palestinians; reiterates that supporting countries which are implementing association agreements with the Union is pivotal to facilitating political and economic reforms, but stresses that such support should apply as long as those countries meet the eligibility criteria, especially as regards the rule of law and enforcing democratic institutions; therefore decides to increase resources for the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), for the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and for Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA);

53.  Stresses the importance of the role that Europe plays at global level in eradicating poverty and ensuring development of the most deprived regions, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals; therefore, allocates additional financial resources to the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and Humanitarian Aid; recalls that, since a significant proportion of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea are coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, Union support in this region is key to tackling the root causes of migration;

54.  Opposes the drastic reductions in financial contributions from the external financing instruments (ENI, IPA, PI and DCI) to Erasmus+, despite the fact that youth exchange programs are one of the most successful long-term investments into cultural diplomacy and mutual understanding, and decides therefore to increase these contributions;

55.  In view of the worrying deterioration of the situation as regards democracy, rule of law and human rights, decides to decrease the support for political reforms in Turkey; decides to put part of the remaining appropriations in reserve to be released when Turkey makes measurable improvements in the fields of rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom, with the aim of redirecting these funds to civil society actors for implementing measures supportive of these objectives;

56.  Is of the opinion that in order to adequately tackle disinformation campaigns, and to promote an objective image of the Union outside its borders, additional financial means are needed; calls therefore to step up funding to counter disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks; decides therefore to increase resources for strategic communication actions to be carried out in the Neighbourhood as well as in the Western Balkans; recalls the importance of investing in the visibility of the Union’s external action in order to strengthen the impact of funding in that field and enhance Union public diplomacy in line with the ambitions of the Global Strategy;

57.  Deems it necessary to increase appropriations for the Turkish Cypriot Community budget line for the purpose of contributing decisively to the continuation and intensification of the mission of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, the wellbeing of Maronites wishing to resettle and that of all enclaved persons as agreed in the 3rd Vienna Agreement, and of supporting the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, thus promoting trust and reconciliation between the two communities;

58.  Stresses that the trend by the Commission to resort to satellite budgetary mechanisms such as trust funds and other similar instruments has not always proven to be a success; is concerned that the establishment of financial instruments outside the Union budget could threaten its unity and circumvent the budgetary procedure and at the same time undermine the transparent management of the budget and hamper the right of the Parliament to exercise effective scrutiny of expenditures; considers, therefore, that external instruments which emerged in recent years must be incorporated into the Union budget, with Parliament having full scrutiny over the implementation of these instruments; notes that by end of September 2017 a total of EUR 795,4 million has been committed for EU Trust Funds in the 2017 Budget; asks the Commission to present to the European Parliament and the Council the amount it intends to commit in 2018 to the Trust Funds; reiterates its concern that Member State contributions to these Trust Funds tend to lag behind their pledges; takes note of the ECA Special Report 11/2017 on the Bekou EU Trust Fund for the Central African Republic; is concerned about the deficiencies identified by the ECA, such as the lack of assessment for overall needs and the dysfunctional coordination mechanisms with other donors; expresses its intention to assess the added value of EU Trust Funds as an instrument of Union external policy;

59.  Recalls that in accordance with Article 24 of the MFF Regulation, all expenditures and revenues of the Union and Euratom shall be entered in the general budget of the Union in accordance with Article 7 of the Financial Regulation; calls on the Commission to preserve the unity of the budget and to consider it as a guiding principle when introducing new initiatives;

60.  Stresses the importance of election observation missions in strengthening democratic institutions and building public confidence in electoral processes, which in return promote peace-building and stability; emphasises the need to ensure sufficient financial resources for that objective;

61.  Points out that DCI funding shall not be redeployed in order to finance the new Capacity Building for Security and Development (CBSD) initiative under the IcSP; deplores the DB proposal to redeploy EUR 7,5 million from the DCI to the CBSD and stresses the urgent need to find alternative solutions to fill this gap;

62.  Reiterates its request that the budget line for EU Special Representatives be transferred, in a budget-neutral manner, from the CFSP budget to the administrative budget of the EEAS in order to further consolidate the Union’s diplomatic activities;

63.  As a result, decides to reverse almost all of the Council’s cuts and to reinforce Heading 4 by EUR 299,7 million above the DB in commitment appropriations (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions, the transfer of EUSRs and adopted cuts);

Heading 5 – Administration; Other headings – administrative and research support expenditure

64.  Considers that Council’s cuts do not reflect the real needs and thus jeopardise the already significantly rationalised administrative expenditure; restores therefore the DB for all Commission administrative expenditure, including administrative and research support expenditure in Headings 1 to 4;

65.  Decides, in line with the conclusion of the “Joint Opinion of the Legal Services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on three aspects of the relationship between OLAF and its Supervisory Committee” of 12 September 2016, to hold 10 % of appropriations of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) until the Supervisory Committee is granted access to OLAF cases files, while slightly reinforcing its budget, in line with increased responsibilities;

66.  Takes note that, at the beginning of 2017, OLAF investigated a severe case of customs fraud in the UK which was caused by undervaluation of imported products and which has created a loss of income of almost EUR 2 billion for the Union budget in the period 2013-2016; is concerned that that fraud has not been stopped to date and that losses to the Union budget are still ongoing; asks the Commission to take into account the slow reaction of the UK administration to its recommendations in this regard when negotiating Brexit; asks those Member States that objected to the Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions to reconsider their position in order to allow for a speedy solution of this problem;

Decentralised Agencies

67.  Endorses, as a general rule, the Commission’s estimates of the budgetary needs of agencies; considers, therefore, that any further cuts proposed by the Council would endanger the proper functioning of the agencies and would not allow them to fulfil the tasks they have been assigned; considers that the new posts adopted in its position are needed to fulfil additional tasks due to new policy developments and new legislation; reiterates its commitment to safeguard resources and where necessary provide additional resources as to ensure the proper functioning of the agencies;

68.  In the context of the challenges the Union is still facing in terms of migration and security, and bearing in mind the necessity for a coordinated European response, decides to reinforce the appropriations for the Europol, Eurojust, CEPOL, EASO and the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA);

69.  Recalls the importance for the Union focusing on competitiveness for growth and jobs; recalls the strategic priority for the Union of fully developing and implementing its Galileo and EGNOS projects for which the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is partially responsible; recalls the GSA has a resourcing gap for cyber security and public regulated service and decides, therefore, to increases its level of appropriations;

70.  Considers that additional appropriation and staff are needed for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) to fulfil its expanded mission related to the implementation of the electricity and gas network codes and guidelines and its monitoring;

71.  Recalls in particular that the European Environment Agency (EEA) helps the Union to make informed decisions about improving the environment, integrating environmental considerations into economic policies and moving towards sustainability, and that, in the context of the 2030 Union climate and energy policy, the Commission has proposed new work for EEA on the Governance of the Energy Union, without any corresponding increase in the establishment table;

72.  Stresses that while the budgetary resources and the number of posts for the European Border and Coast Guard seem adequate for the time being, the future needs of the agency in terms of operational resources and staff will have to be closely monitored;

73.  Welcomes the inclusion of adequate resources provided for in the 2018 budget to support the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs); underlines that the role of the ESAs is essential in fostering the consistent application of Union law and better coordination between national authorities, and in ensuring financial stability, better integrated financial markets and consumer protection and supervisory convergence; emphasises that in the interest of a prudent use of their budgets, the ESAs must stick to the tasks and to the mandate assigned to them by the Union legislator;

74.  Reiterates that, as agreed in the IIA of 2 December 2013, 2018 is the last year of implementation of the 5 % staff reduction and redeployment pool approach to the staffing of agencies; reiterates its opposition to any continuation of a global approach on agency resources after 2018; reaffirms its openness to achieving efficiency gains between agencies through increased administrative cooperation or even mergers where appropriate and through pooling certain functions with either the Commission or another agency; welcomes in this regard the initiative to further coordinate agencies activities via establishing the Network of EU Agencies’ Permanent Secretariat (now called the Shared Support Office) and supports the allocation of an additional establishment plan post to the European Food Safety Agency whose costs will be mutualised from the Union Agencies’ existing budgets and seconded to that office;

Pilot projects and preparatory actions (PP-PAs)

75.  Having carried out a careful analysis of the pilot projects and preparatory actions submitted as regards the rate of success of the on-going ones, excluding initiatives already covered by existing legal bases and taking fully into account the Commission’s assessment of the projects’ implementability, decides to adopt a compromise package made up of a limited number of PP-PAs, in view also of the limited margins available and the ceilings for PP-PAs;

76.  Stresses therefore the efforts made by the Parliament in this regard and asks the Commission to show good will in the implementation of the adopted PP-PAs at the end of the budgetary procedure, regardless of its implementability assessment, as for any decision of the European Parliament and the Council;

Special instruments

77.  Recalls the usefulness of special instruments to provide flexibility over and beyond the extremely tight ceilings of the current MFF and welcomes the improvements brought about by the mid-term revision of the MFF Regulation; calls for an extensive use of the Flexibility Instrument, the Global Margin for Commitments and the Contingency Margin in order to finance the wide range of new challenges and additional responsibilities that the Union budget is facing;

78.  Calls for an increase in the Emergency Aid Reserve (EAR) and the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in light of the most recent and tragic disasters, namely the fires and extreme drought in Portugal and Spain;

79.  Recalls also the significance of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), the EAR and the EUSF; supports the Commission’s intention to provide for a quicker mobilisation of the EUSF by putting most of its annual amount in a reserve in the Union budget, on top of the amount already budgeted for advances; regrets the Council’s cut in that respect and restores partially the DB level, with the exception of the amount which has been frontloaded to 2017 via Amending Budget No 4/2017 and the mobilisation of the EUSF for Italy; calls for the extension of the scope of the EUSF to provide assistance to victims of acts of terrorism and their families;

Payments

80.  Is concerned about the current under-execution trend in payments throughout the Union budget, not only in subheading 1b, but also in Headings 3 and 4, despite the need to answer the surge of new challenges and the setting-up of flexible funding mechanisms; recalls that for the past two years the payment level of the Union budget was considerably decreased, coupled with a high level of budget surplus; expresses, therefore, its concern that the DB still leaves an unprecedented margin of EUR 10 billion below the payment ceiling, which reflects a low execution trend that may lead to an acute payment pressure at the end of the current MFF;

81.  Insists on the necessity to restore the DB in payments on all lines cut by the Council and reinforces payment appropriations in targeted manner, mostly on those lines which are amended in commitment appropriations;

Other Sections

82.  Regrets the repeated Council practice of increasing the standard flat rate abatement for the Union institutions; believes this to have a particularly distorting effect on the budgets of institutions with historically accurate abatement rates; considers that this approach does not constitute a targeted reduction nor sound financial management; restores therefore the abatement rate at the level of the DB;

Section I – European Parliament

83.  Maintains the overall level of its budget for 2018, as adopted in its abovementioned resolution of 5 April 2017, at EUR 1 953 483 373; incorporates budgetary-neutral technical adjustments to reflect updated information which was not available earlier this year;

84.  Notes that the level of estimates for 2018 corresponds to 18,88 %, which is lower than that achieved in 2017 (19,25 %) and the lowest part of Heading 5 in the past fifteen years; insists nevertheless that the drive for the lowest expenditure possible for the European Parliament should not come at the cost of a reduced capacity for Parliament’s ordinary legislative work;

85.  Reiterates Parliament’s priorities for the forthcoming financial year, namely, consolidating the security measures already taken and improving Parliament’s resilience to cyber-attacks, improving the transparency of the Parliament’s own internal budgetary procedure, and focusing the Parliament’s budget on its core functions of legislating, acting as one arm of the budgetary authority, representing citizens and scrutinising the work of other institutions;

86.  Welcomes the creation of the Parliament’s Bureau Working group on the general expenditure allowance; recalls the expectations of greater transparency regarding the general expenditure allowance and a need to work on a definition of more precise rules regarding the accountability of the expenditure authorised under this allowance, without generating additional costs to Parliament;

87.  Calls on the Bureau to make the following concrete changes concerning the general expenditure allowance:

   the general expenditure allowance should be handled in all cases in a separate bank account;
   all receipts pertaining to the general expenditure allowance should be kept by Members;
   the unspent share of the general expenditure allowance should be returned at the end of the mandate;

88.  Reduces the establishment plan of its General Secretariat for 2018 by 60 posts (1 % staff reduction target), in accordance with the agreement of 14 November 2015 reached with the Council on the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016; recalls that the 35 posts granted to Parliament in 2016 related to new activities reinforcing security and, as such were exempted from the staff reduction target, as confirmed at the adoption of the Amending Budget No 3/2016 and the 2017 general budget(10)
; calls on the Commission to adjust its monitoring tables accordingly in order to provide to the European Parliament and the Council with accurate information at all steps of the procedure;

89.  Welcomes the exchange of views on Parliament’s building policy held on 11 July 2017 between the Committee on Budgets, the Secretary General and the Vice-Presidents responsible for Parliament’s building policy; considers that this dialogue ought to be a continuous process, particularly in the light of upcoming Bureau discussions on the refurbishment of the Paul Henri-Spaak building;

90.  Reiterates Parliament’s position as expressed in its abovementioned resolution of 5 April 2017 that there is further room for improvement on the control mechanisms related to European political parties and political foundations; notes in this regard the Commission’s proposal to amend Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014(11)
and welcomes any effort to improve the accountability and transparency of spending;

91.  Recalls the 2014 ECA analysis which estimated the costs of the geographic dispersion of the Parliament to be EUR 114 million per year; furthermore, notes the finding from its resolution of 23 October 2013 on the location of the seats of the European Union’s Institutions(12)
that 78 % of all missions by Parliament statutory staff arise as a direct result of the Parliament’s geographic dispersion; emphasises that the report also estimates the environmental impact of the geographic dispersion to be between 11 000 to 19 000 tonnes of CO2
emissions; reiterates the negative public perception caused by this dispersion and calls therefore for a roadmap to a single seat and a reduction in the relevant budget lines;

Section IV – Court of Justice

92.  Restores the DB on all budget items cut by the Council which are essential to the functioning of the Court and restores the estimates for two budget items in order to enhance the Court’s ability to deal with increasingly high translation demands;

93.  Expresses its disbelief at the unilateral statement of the Council and the related appendix on the 5 % staff reduction in the Council’s position on the 2018 draft budget according to which the Court still needs to reduce its establishment plan by 19 posts; underlines that those 19 posts correspond to the 12 and 7 posts duly granted by Parliament and the Council in the 2015 and 2016 budgetary procedures respectively to address additional needs and insists therefore that those 19 posts should not be given back, the Court having already duly achieved its 5 % staff reduction requirement by suppressing 98 posts during the period 2013-2017;

Section V – Court of Auditors

94.  Restores the DB on all items cut by Council, in order to implement the work programme of the Court of Auditors and deliver the planned Audit Reports;

95.  Places a reserve on the item “Limited consultations, studies and surveys” pending the outcome of the ongoing negotiations on the revision of the Financial Regulation, and the revision entering into force in 2018;

Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee

96.  Restores the DB on all items cut by the Council;

97.  Increases two lines above the DB in relation to the work of Domestic Advisory Groups in trade agreements;

Section VII – Committee of the Regions

98.  Restores the DB on all items cut by the Council;

99.  Increases a number of lines above the DB in line with the Committee of the Region’s own estimates;

Section VIII – European Ombudsman

100.  Welcomes the work done by the Ombudsman in finding efficiency savings in her own budget when compared with the previous year;

Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor

101.  Questions why the Council would reduce the budget of the European Data Protection Supervisor given the additional tasks conferred upon the institution by Parliament and the Council; restores therefore all the budget lines cut by Council to enable the European Data Protection Supervisor to fulfil his obligations and commitments;

Section X- European External Action Service

102.  Restores all lines cut by the Council;

103.  Creates a Strategic Communication Capacity budget item in line with the European Council conclusions of March 2015 and to equip the EEAS with adequate staff and tools to face the challenge of disinformation from third states and non-state actors;

104.  Decides furthermore to transfer EU Special Representatives from the CFSP chapter to the EEAS budget to strengthen the coherence of the Union’s external action;

105.  Provides an additional amount above the EEAS estimates for trainees in Union Delegations, in response to the findings of the European Ombudsman’s inquiry into unpaid traineeships(13)
;

o
o   o

106.  Takes note of the unilateral statement of France and Luxembourg annexed to the Council’s position on the draft budget for 2018, as adopted on 4 September 2017; recalls that representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed on the pragmatic calendar for the conduct of the budgetary procedure, including the dates for the conciliation period, at the spring budgetary trilogue on 27 March 2017; recalls that the General Affairs Council approved that pragmatic calendar at its meeting of 25 April 2017, in full knowledge of the Parliament’s calendar of part-sessions for 2017; notes, therefore, that the budgetary procedure is proceeding in conformity with the pragmatic calendar agreed between the three institutions;

107.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, together with the amendments to the draft general budget, to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(2) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(4) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2017)0085.
(6) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2017)0114.
(7) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2017)0302.
(8) Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC (OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73).
(9) Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (OJ L 276, 20.10.2010, p. 33).
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0401 / P8_TA(2016)0411.
(11) COM(2017)0481.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0498.
(13) European Ombudsman, 454.2014/PMC.