MEPs rejected a report on the EU budget guidelines for 2024, following the adoption of an amendment by the right-wing European People’s Party (EPP) and European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups that would have introduced EU funds to build walls to keep out migrants at EU borders.
The report, which consists of guidelines for the preparation of the EU 2024 budget, was rejected by a narrow majority of socialists and democrats (S&D), Renew, Greens and The Left lawmakers on Wednesday (19 April).
The amendment, adopted also be a narrowly 322 to 290 margin, pointed to the need for the Commission “to immediately mobilise substantial EU funds and means to support Member States in reinforcing border protection capabilities and infrastructure, means of surveillance, including aerial surveillance, and equipment.”
“Walls should be the exception, the last answer, but if illegal immigration cannot be stopped any other way, then we must also be prepared to build fences,” said EPP President Manfred Weber in an interview to Corriere della Sera on Monday (17 April).
“Through its political manoeuvring, the EPP group has caused the massive rejection of the report on the 2024 budget guidelines, depriving the European Parliament of a decisive vote in favour of an ambitious budget to build a true European sovereignty,” the Renew MEP Fabienne Keller, told EURACTIV, who argued that migration has to be addressed through the EU legislative files currently being negotiated which form the Pact on migration and Asylum.
“The right-wing of the Parliament wants to build walls and fences on the external border of the Union. With EU money! We say “No!” and we should not let it happen with the EU budget for next year,” the S&D group wrote on Twitter after the vote.
“The EPP’s political adventurism and its alliance with the extreme right and the conservatives of ECR torpedoed Parliament’s guidelines for the 2024 EU budget and led to their rejection in Plenary. The Parliament had called for ambitious increases and a revised MFF with additional funds for cohesion & social convergence, the green & digital transitions, dealing with the energy crisis and more investments at EU level.” Left MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis, also a vice-president of Parliament, told EURACTIV.
Rejecting the report will not have impact on the budgetary procedure itself, however, but means that the European Parliament is unlikely to approve any other guidelines this year, a Parliament official told EURACTIV.
“As expected, European Commission will present the draft budget 2024 in May or June, and the European Parliament will adopt its negotiating position at end of October” the official added.
[Edited by Benjamin Fox]