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A package comprising the 2015 EU budget and the pending draft amendment budgets for 2014, notably to meet outstanding payments, was endorsed by the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee on 9 December. "The budget agreement approved squares the circle between three crucial challenges: the need to address the

backlog of payments, the importance not to jeopardise member states' efforts to consolidate their public finance and the necessity to provide indispensable stimuli for creating jobs and generating growth in the future", said Pier Carlo Padoan, the Italian Minister for Finance and President of the Council.

As regards the 2015 budget, the compromise reached sets the total payments at € 141.2 billion and total commitments to € 145.3 billion. This leaves sufficient margins under the ceilings of the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) 2014-2020 to allow the EU to react to unforeseen events. The payments for activities such as research, innovation and education increase by more than 38% or € 4.4 billion compared to the 2014 EU budget as adopted last year.

The support measures for farmers hit by the Russian food ban are financed through higher than expected financial surpluses and corrections within the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund rather than by the agricultural crisis reserve. To remedy damages caused by natural disasters payments of a total amount of € 126.7 billion are mobilised under the EU solidarity fund to the benefit of Serbia (€ 60.2 million), Slovenia (€ 18.4 million), Croatia (€ 17.6 million), Italy (€ 16.3 million), Bulgaria (€ 10.5 million) and Greece (€ 3.7 million). With regard to the 2014 budget the compromise provides for an increase of payments by € 3.5 billion to tackle the unprecedented scale of unpaid bills. This brings the total payments in this year's budget to € 139.0 billion. The additional amount is financed by mobilising the contingency margin for an amount of € 3.2 billion and using € 361 million below the MFF ceiling.

The increase in payments is more than offset by additional revenue from fines, the financial surplus from 2013 and the revised forecast of own resources. In addition, the use of scarce resources is optimised by redeploying € 30 million from budget lines on which the implementation rate is currently particularly low.

To avoid a similar scope of outstanding payments in future years care has been taken to limit as far as possible the difference between commitments and payments, which in 2015 amounts to € 4.1 billion (compared to more than € 18.0 billion in some previous years).


The package deal also includes the European Parliament's commitment to provide its opinion on the revised own resources regulation during its December plenary session, allowing the Council to adopt the regulation in a timely manner. The amended regulation allows member states to defer their payments which are due to a revised forecast of own resources by September 2015.