EU negotiators make last-ditch try to seal 2019 budget

Brussels – Negotiators have regrouped in hopes of hashing out the European Union’s 2019 budget, with hours left to strike a deal.

No agreement yet

The budget covers everything from agricultural subsidies and support for poorer regions to research and education programmes. Most money flows back to member states.

Talks between EU finance ministers and European Parliament representatives broke up without an agreement. Among the unresolved issues was the question of aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey, EU sources said.

If talks do not conclude, the European Commission is required to submit a fresh proposal.

Fraught negotiations

The talks are aimed at bridging the budget proposal by European Union member states and the one approved by the parliament. Negotiations are often fraught affairs, as member states typically seek to limit expenditures, while EU lawmakers advocate more spending.

For 2019, the parliament has called for a budget of 149.3 billion euros (170.2 billion dollars) in payments. That is slightly more than the figures that member states had agreed on, which came to a total of 148.2 billion euros.

In particular, the parliament rejected cuts proposed by member states to growth and job-creation schemes, totalling 794 million euros.

The parliament’s budget proposal also includes an additional 362 million euros for Erasmus, an exchange programme for education, training, youth and sport, as well as 347 million euros for an initiative boosting youth employment.

The budget approved by member states, meanwhile, found some “relatively significant” savings by cutting administrative costs.