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Brussels/Strasbourg, December 18th 2008

EU Budget 2009: gearing up for economic recovery

In 2009, the biggest share of the EU budget – 45% or €60 billion - will go to research, innovation, employment and regional development programmes, combining short and longer-term measures to help Europe respond to the current economic crisis as quickly and effectively as possible. An 11% increase in research and a 22% increase in the EU's innovation programme will help boost competitiveness in difficult times as well as EU efforts to move to a low-carbon economy. Funds for agriculture remain stable, taking over 40% of EU cash, while spending on the environment and rural development will rise by 2.9%. Europe's role in the world will also see spending grow in 2009, including €0.6 billion for the €1 billion food facility to help developing countries respond to rising food prices.

Speaking after the European Parliament vote on the 2009 Budget in Strasbourg, Dalia Grybauskaitė, EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget said, "The 2009 budget will focus funding on innovation, employment and regional development across the EU-27. These are the precise areas that can kick start Europe into recovery mode and pull it out of today's difficult economic situation". She added "We need to respond to the current crisis but also to prepare for life afterwards, ensuring we spend on the right things, at the right time in the right way".

The adopted 2009 budget will amount to almost €134 billion (€133.8bn) in commitment appropriations[1], a slight increase of 2.5% on 2008. This corresponds to 1.03% of the EU Gross National Income (GNI). Payment appropriations[2] will reach €116.1 billion, a slight increase of 0.3% on 2008, representing 0.89% of EU-27 GNI.

Getting Europe on the road to economic recovery:

In 2009, almost €12 billion of the EU budget in 2009 will go on projects to boost Europe's competitiveness, 6.2% more than in 2008. The €12 billion includes funds for research which will rise by 11% for the second year running. A record investment of €0.5 billion will also be set aside for the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation programme (CIP) to finance ground-breaking sustainable technologies - an increase of 22% on 2008. More than €1 billion will go to programmes to improve Europeans' skills, mainly through the Lifelong Learning Programme - a 6.5% rise on 2008.

Faster funding for Europe's regions:

Funding for cohesion will continue to grow in 2009 with nearly €48.5 billion for Europe's regions (a 2.5% rise on 2008). This will also be strengthened by the recent agreement to accelerate Structural Funds financing in 2009, providing Member States with cash fast to support people hit by the crisis and increase financing for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Efforts to integrate new Member States into common EU policies are also bearing fruit with 50% of all Cohesion and Structural Funds now going to the EU-12.

Responding to global challenges, and Europe's security and justice

The recent surge in food prices has hit the most vulnerable in the world worst and the EU is stepping up its support by providing a Food Facility package of €1 billion over 2008, 2009, 2010. The largest share - up to €568 million - will come from the 2009 EU budget. Maintaining its role as a global player, the EU will also channel over €8 billion into external policies –a 7% rise on 2008. Support for the peace process in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and ensuring stability in Kosovo will be key investments in 2009 – €361m for Palestine and €231m for Afghanistan and €261m for projects in Kosovo.

Terrorism, crime as well as immigration are still big concerns for Europeans and support for these specific areas will see one of the biggest increases in spending in 2009 at €864 million - up 18% from 2008..

Environment and rural development – moving to a low-carbon economy:

Spending on agriculture will remain stable in 2009, absorbing more than €40 billion. The shift within this policy area towards development in rural areas also means more spending on the environment the fight against climate change. Over 40% of rural development funding ( €13.6 billion) will be for environmental goals. On top of that, the LIFE+ environmental protection programme will grow by 19%, reaching €317 million. The 22% increase in the EU's innovation programme will also help EU efforts to move to a low-carbon economy by financing sustainable technologies.

[1] Commitment appropriations cover legal commitments made to spend funds over one or more years. These commitments are then honoured by payment appropriations each year. Unless otherwise indicated, all amounts mentioned are in commitment appropriations.

[2] Payment appropriations cover payments made to honour the legal commitments entered into in the current financial year and/or earlier financial years.

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