HC Deb 15 October 1991 vol 196 cc116-7W
Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of European Ministers at the Budget Council in July.

Mr. Maude

The Budget Council met in Brussels on 25 July. I represented the United Kingdom. The Council established a first reading draft budget for 1992 totalling 65.6 becu (£45.7 billion) in commitment appropriations and 62.4 becu (£43.5 billion) in payment appropriations, respectively 986 mecu (£687 million) and 834 mecu (£581 million) below the relevant financial perspective ceiling. The draft budget is 35 mecu above the Commission's preliminary draft budget for commitments and 207 mecu below for payments.

The 1992 budget is the last under the current inter-institutional agreement (IIA) between the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. The 11A incorporates expenditure ceilings for 1988–1992, the "financial perspective". The following table shows that the first reading draft budget respects all the financial perspective ceilings:

The provision for agricultural guarantee expenditure is 31 mecu below the agricultural guideline, which is fixed at 35,039 mecu (£24,417 million). The draft budget includes provisions of 810 mecu (£564 million) for the cost of depreciating existing agricultural stocks, and 1,000 mecu (£697 million) for the monetary reserve which can be drawn on to cover part of any additional agricultural expenditure arising from the change in the dollar/ecu exchange rate.

For structural operations (which includes the structural funds), all the available headroom in the financial perspective category has been used. The increase in structural funds of around 19 per cent., as compared with 1991, reflects the path to achieve a real terms doubling of the 1987 level agreed as part of the 1988 reform of the funds.

Pending decisions on the amount of technical assistance to be made available to the USSR in 1992, the draft budget includes a provisional figure of 400 mecu (£278 million). There is also a provision of 1,007 mecu (£702 million) for aid to eastern Europe, which should enable the PHARE programme to be extended to include Albania. The Council also included 100 mecu (£70 million) as an exceptional reserve for food aid. This should make it easier to deal with urgent requests for aid. Similarly on humanitarian aid the draft budget includes appropriations of 60 mecu (£42 million).

The European Parliament will consider the draft budget at its plenary in late October. The Parliament's amendments and modifications will be considered at the second Budget Council on 12 November.

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