European Council endorses agreement on EU budget for 2019
On 11 December 2018, the Council endorsed the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the EU budget for 2019. An important fact is that this budget is based on the premise that the UK will continue to contribute to and participate in the implementation of EU budgets until the end of 2020 in line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and the EU.
The total commitments are set at €165.8 billion, which is an increase of 3.2% compared with the 2018 budget as amended over the past months. Payments amount to €148.2 billion, 2.4% more than in 2018.
Leeway of €1.3 billion is left available under the ceilings of the multiannual financial framework to allow the EU to react to unforeseen events and needs.
Focus on growth and young people
To support growth and job creation, commitments of €23.3 billion were agreed under subheading 1a (competitiveness for growth and jobs), which is 6.1% more than in 2018.
This includes a strong boost for Horizon 2020, which gets €12.3 billion to support research and innovation, an increase of 9.8% on 2018. The Connecting Europe Facility is also reinforced, receiving €3.8 billion to fund infrastructure projects across Europe (37.0% more than in 2018). €367 million (+3.7%) are allocated to COSME to provide support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
In line with the EU’s priorities, young people will also benefit from more opportunities.
Erasmus+ gets a significant boost, with €2.8 billion provided for youth exchanges, 19.5% more than in 2018. The Youth Employment Initiative receives an additional €350 million to help young people looking for a job in regions with high unemployment. More possibilities will also become available for volunteering and work in projects through the European Solidarity Corps, for which support is more than tripled compared with 2018 (€143 million).
Strengthened support for migration management and security
In the field of migration and security, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund is considerably strengthened, with €1.1 billion allocated to migration management (+55.9% compared with 2018). The Internal Security Fund will receive €534 million.
Additional funds are earmarked for several agencies in charge of responding to the current migration and security challenges, such as Frontex, European Asylum Support Office, Europol and eu-LISA.
In line with the agreement reached between the member states in June 2018, the 2019 EU budget will contribute €1.45 billion to the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey to support Syrian refugees with essentials such as healthcare and schooling.
This comes on top of other funds supporting the external dimension of migration.
Other key elements
In order to help the EU move towards its climate targets, the 2019 EU budget also reinforces environmental and climate action, with €558 million made available under the LIFE programme, 6.7% more than in 2018.
As in the 2018 budget, pre-accession funds for Turkey have been reduced vis-à-vis the financial programming in view of the situation as regards democracy, rule of law and human rights in this country. The cut in the 2019 budget amounts to €146.7 million.
An additional €1.2 million is provided in the 2019 budget to the European External Action Service for hiring extra staff to deal with strategic communications and the fight against disinformation.