European Commission unveils 'economic recovery' budget

EuropeBrussels - The European Commission on Wednesday approved spending plans worth 138.6 billion euros (183.4 billion dollars) for 2010, with nearly half of the European Union's shared resources being devoted to promoting economic growth at a time of recession. The preliminary draft budget's total spending plans represent a 3.8 per cent increase on 2009, with the bloc's 27 member states committing 1.18 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) to the EU executive in Brussels.

National governments are in return set to receive 122.3 billion euros, or 1.04 per cent of their GNI, from Brussels.

Nearly 45 per cent of spending will be devoted to policies designed to foster growth and employment and boost the bloc's competitiveness.

"This budget targets measures to help avert an even sharper downturn," said Siim Kallas, the commissioner in charge of the EU budget. Kallas noted that 62 billion euros are to be spent on jobs, infrastructure and competitiveness, and a further 6 billion on research and innovation.

The second-largest spending chapter, 31.6 per cent, concerns direct aid and market related expenditure.

Governments are also set to receive 11 billion euros to support their agricultural sectors while 5.7 per cent of the total budget is devoted to the EU's administrative costs, including salaries and pensions paid to its functionaries.

The EU's 12 newest member states are now set to receive a bigger slice of the EU's cohesion and structural funds - 52 per cent. The mostly Eastern European countries received just 47 per cent of those funds in 2008.

The budget also takes into account about half of the 5 billion euros in energy and broadband infrastructures projects that were approved by member states after months of wranglings earlier this year to boost the bloc's economic recovery. Of this total, 2.6 billion euros are being taken from the 2009 budget. (dpa)