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The ‘high note’ that surrounded the end of the UK Presidency late last year, with an agreement on the EU Budget, has been dealt a blow by the European Parliament. On Wednesday January 18th, MEPs overwhelmingly rejected the agreement reached in December by Heads of State and Government on the EU's future budget (“financial perspectives 2007-2013”), agreeing with its Budgets Committee's assertion that it does not guarantee an EU budget for prosperity, competitiveness and cohesion. The resolution, calling for further negotiation over the 2007-2013 budget, was adopted by an overwhelming cross-party majority of 541 votes , with only 56 MEPs voting against and 76 abstaining.
MEPs were particularly critical of the mere €862 billion in funding agreed by the Heads of State and Government, which fall considerably short of the €975 billion proposed by the Parliament last June. MEPs did not only find that the budget was too small, it also failed to see it adequately supporting the current Union policy priorities, such as the Lisbon Agenda, and research, education and training. Indeed, if unchanged, the future budget agreed by the Council would adversely affect the foreseen increase of funding for the 7th Research Framework Programme and the Lifelong Learning Programme (see article below).European Parliament - press service