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Brussels, 2 May 2007

Proposed Budget 2008: Growth and employment at the heart of EU spending

For the first time, spending on growth and employment policies will represent the highest share of the budget, ahead of agriculture and natural resources. This is the key message sent by the Commission in its budget proposals for 2008, adopted today. At EUR 129.2 billion in commitment appropriations, the budget increases by 2% compared to 2007. Payment appropriations are set at EUR 121.6 billion, a 5.3% increase.

The Commission adopted the Preliminary Draft Budget (PDB) for 2008 – the first step in the budgetary procedure before the budget is finally approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

Commitment appropriations in the PDB are at the level of 1.03% of EU Gross National Income (GNI), and payment appropriations at 0.97% of GNI. Spending on growth and employment policies increases by +4.2% compared to 2007, to reach 44.2% of the budget, against 43.6% for the protection and management of natural resources, including the Common Agricultural policy.

Dalia Grybauskaité, European Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget, commented: “Today's budget proposal marks a historical shift for the EU: for the first time, spending directly related to growth and jobs take the biggest share of the EU budget. This proves that the Commission is steady in its ambition of refocusing the budget on the global challenges facing Europe as a whole. More funds are now available for policies geared towards economic progress, without sacrificing the efforts needed in other areas, notably the environment, energy, freedom and security, and Europe's common foreign and security policy”.

More than EUR 57 billion to boost growth and employment

The renewed Lisbon Strategy remains at the core of EU policy. EUR 57.2 billion will be spent on policies related to growth and employment (heading 1), i.e. 2.3 billion more (+4.2%) than in 2007. In particular, research expenditure will increase by some 11%, investments in trans-European energy and transport networks by 14%, and lifelong learning programmes by 9% (with 63,5% increase for Erasmus Mundus). Moreover, the new programmes to support cohesion across Europe will kick-in, boosting expenditure in this field by almost EUR 1.4 billion, or 3.1%, of which Cohesion Fund devoted to big infrastructural projects will increase by more then 14% in 2008.

Proposed expenditure on the preservation and management of natural resources (heading 2) amounts to EUR 56.3 billion, stable compared to 2007. This stability should not mask the gradual shifts taking place within this policy area: market related expenditure and direct aid to farmers decrease by only 0.5% to EUR 42.5 billion, whilst rural development programmes continue to grow to reach more than EUR 12.5 billion, a 1.6% increase. Expenditure in the EU's main environmental protection programme, Life+, increases by 11% to reach EUR 267 million. Many other EU policies support the environment, notably research expenditure.

Expenditure on freedom, security and justice (heading 3a) increases by a strong 10.8%, to reach EUR 691 million. The most significant increase concerns the management of migration flows, at 24%, reaching more than EUR 390 million.

Citizenship programmes (heading 3b) reach almost EUR 600 million, an increase of 11% when compared to 2007 if one excludes two items exceptionally financed in 2007 (the transition facility for Romania and Bulgaria, and the mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund to help various Member States affected by unforeseeable natural disasters). In particular, the public and health and consumer protection programme increases by 15%, the Europe for citizens programme by 18% and the Media programme by almost 21%.

External relation actions (heading 4) will help sustain the EU's influence on the global stage with programmes worth more than EUR 6.9 billion, a 1.5% increase compared to 2007. The funding of the Common and Foreign Security Policy exceeds the EUR 200 million threshold, an increase of 26%, whilst development cooperation continues to represent the biggest budgetary item at EUR 2.2 billion, a 1.9% increase.

Finally, EUR 7.3 billion (5.6% of the budget), is earmarked for administration costs (heading 5). Administrative costs for the Commission are set to increase less than the rest of the budget, at 4.1%, including new posts necessary for recent enlargements.

Administration and Compensations
[Graphic in PDF & Word format]

Budget proposal for 2008 by heading (commitment appropriations)

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Note for the editors

The budget forecasts both commitments (legal pledges to provide financing, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled) and payments (actual cash or bank transfers to the beneficiaries). Appropriations (i.e. funds) for commitments and payments differ because multi-annual programmes and projects are usually committed in the year they are decided, but are paid for over the years as the implementation of the programme and project progresses.

The calendar for the discussion and approval of the budget is the following:

13 July: Conciliation meeting between the EU Council and the European Parliament. A first reading of the budget by the Council establishes the Draft Budget.

22-25 October: EP plenary and Parliament’s first reading.

23 November: Conciliation meeting between the Council and Parliament, and the Council’s second reading.

10-13 December: EP plenary and Parliament’s second reading; the final adoption of the EU budget.

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