Negotiators meet to finalize EU’s 2019 budget

Brussels – Negotiators are set to meet Friday in hopes of hashing out the EU’s 2019 budget – which covers everything from agricultural subsidies and support for poorer regions to research and education programmes.

The session starts with a gathering of EU finance ministers. They will then meet with negotiators from the European Parliament, which approved its version of the budget in October.

The two sides will try to resolve differences in what is often a fraught affair. 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 (168 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.

Although mid-November is the traditional deadline, negotiations have often dragged on into December.

The budget vote comes as member states are squaring off over the European Commission’s long-term post-2020 spending proposals. These include new priorities such as security and migration, while addressing a funding gap left by Britain’s planned departure from the EU.