For the first time, the Commission has issued opinions on euro area Member States' Draft Budgetary Plans, which from this year must be submitted to the Commission by 15 October, at the same time as draft budgets are sent to national parliaments. Assessments have also been published regarding compliance with Council recommendations under the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP), potential breaches of the debt and deficit criteria under the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), and on certain Member States' plans for structural reforms with a budgetary impact outlined in their Economic Partnership Programmes (EPP).
Olli Rehn, European Commission Vice President in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, said: “We have reached a turning point on the road to economic recovery and today we reach a milestone in the implementation of Europe's strengthened economic governance. Today's Commission opinions on national budgetary plans support the euro area Member States in their pursuit of stronger growth and fiscal sustainability. Because in an economic and monetary union, national budgetary decisions can have an impact well beyond national borders. Member States have given the Commission the responsibility to issue these opinions and I trust that they will thus be taken on board by national decision-makers.”
Malta appears to have taken effective action in 2013 in response to the EDP recommendation. However the Draft Budgetary Plan for 2014 submitted by Malta is at risk of non-compliance with the SGP rules. In particular, the Commission forecast indicates a risk of non-compliance with respect to the EDP recommendation for 2014.
The Economic Partnership Programme constitutes limited progress in addressing the structural part of the fiscal recommendations issued by the Council in the context of the European Semester.
The Commission invites the authorities to take the necessary measures within the national budgetary process to ensure that the 2014 budget for Malta will be fully compliant with the SGP and notably to address the risks identified in the assessment.
The opinions on the Draft Budgetary Plans will be presented to the Eurogroup, which meets on 22 November to discuss them. The Commission will also present its opinion to the parliament of the Member State concerned and/or to the European Parliament if invited to do so.
In line with the new common budgetary timeline introduced by the Two-Pack, budgets have to be adopted by national parliaments by 31 December each year.
The Commission said it continues with its surveillance of budgetary developments in all Member States throughout the year.