ANN CAHILL: EU budget shifts focus away from agriculture

THE EU’s €134 billion budget for next year will shift the focus away from agriculture towards investment in research, the environment and energy.

Details of the draft budget published yesterday show funds for agriculture remaining stable at just under €43 billion, but accounting for 32% of the total with rural development taking up a further 11%.

The emphasis for next year moves firmly in the direction of long-term economic progress and employment taking 45% of the budget.

Budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaité described it as a realistic, stable budget that shifts spending firmly to long-term economic development and employment, without putting other areas at risk.

“Investments in research, the environment and energy are growing three times faster than the budget itself, giving real financial shape to our political goals and putting taxpayers’ money where Europe’s challenges lie,” she said.

About €60bn is being set aside for growth and employment, including almost €12bn for research, innovation and lifelong learning. There will be a big increase in spending on employment incentives and improving social inclusion.

Programmes aimed at redistributing funds to poorer EU regions in all member states to help boost their growth will cost more than €48bn. About €7.5bn is earmarked for global challenges including humanitarian aid and development.

The union’s energy and climate change package will be allocated €17bn, for issues varying from environment protection, increasing green investment, energy security, renewable energy and research.

The draft must now be passed by the 27 member governments, who are likely to try to cut spending, and by the European Parliament.


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