The European Commission proposed an EU budget of €160.6 billion — an increase of more than €2 billion on the 2017 total — for 2018, which will be the last annual budget with the U.K. as a full member.
It was Günther Oettinger’s first budget presentation since the veteran German commissioner took over the budget and human resources portfolio from Kristalina Georgieva in January this year.
As in previous years, the lion’s share of the EU budget will be devoted to regional and agricultural policies.
The allocations in the draft budget include €4.1 billion for migration and security policies, such as the EU-Turkey deal on migration, greater resources for managing the EU’s external borders and €560 million which the EU pledged in April to help Lebanon and Jordan handle the influx of Syrian refugees. However, the overall figure dedicated to migration and security is down 19 percent in 2018 from this year, which the German commissioner justified on the grounds that funds allocated in previous years were not fully utilized.
Research on defense policy, a new priority amid talk of increased security cooperation within the EU, gets €90 million in the 2018 budget.
The Commission said Brexit “will have no direct impact on the 2018 budget as the U.K. is expected still be a full member of the EU during that year,” as Britain is expected to leave the union in March 2019.
Oettinger said he expected that after the U.K. election on June 8, London would remove its reservation which is currently holding up approval of a mid-term review of the EU’s seven-year budget for 2014-2020, which includes an extra €6 billion for migration, security and the economy. The British government says it cannot take such a decision while it is in election “purdah” ahead of next week’s general election.
Jean Arthuis, chairman of the European Parliament’s budget committee, referred to this in a joint news conference with Oettinger as “hostage-taking carried out by the British government.”
The Commission’s proposed budget should be submitted to the Council of the EU for its amendments before the summer break in July. The European Parliament must then conclude its review in time for all three institutions to agree on a final version by November 20.
This article has been updated with more details.
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