Commission adopts preliminary draft budget for 1996 The European Commission adopted on 26 April 1995 its preliminary draft budget for 1996. The expenditure proposals total ECU 86,280 million in commitment appropriations and ECU 81,927 million in payment appropriations. These figures represent an increase of 8.1% and 8.6% respec... The European Commission adopted on 26 April 1995 its preliminary draft budget for 1996. The expenditure proposals total ECU 86,280 million in commitment appropriations and ECU 81,927 million in payment appropriations. These figures represent an increase of 8.1% and 8.6% respectively compared to the 1995 budget. With the preliminary draft budget, the Commission launched the budget procedure for 1996. For the first time it takes account of the enlarged Union of 15 Member States. The preliminary draft budget is based on the expectations of continued economic recovery in 1996 and significant consolidation efforts for public spending in the Member States. The budget proposal fully respects the spending ceilings agreed at the European Council of Edinburgh in December 1992 (including the revision for enlargement agreed in December 1994). An increase in the ceilings for 1996 is not foreseen. The budget proposes expenditure for internal policies, external policies and administrative spending which remains considerably below these ceilings. The 1996 preliminary draft budget proposes significant increases in the Community spending for the following key priorities: - Economic cohesion (structural actions, + 10.6%); - Research and technological development (+ 7.9%); - Trans-European networks (+ 15.3%); - Cooperation with Mediterranean countries (+ 29.6%). Funds for education and training (SOCRATES, LEONARDO DA VINCI and Youth for Europe programmes) as well as culture (KALEIDOSCOPE, ARIANE and RAPHAEL) and the audiovisual sector (MEDIA II) are provided in line with the recent legislative decisions. The already very substantial funds for the Central and Eastern European countries (the PHARE programme) is increased (+ 5.4%) in order to contribute to the preparation of these countries for membership of the EU. Other examples of important budget increases concern health programmes and programmes for equality between men and women. The need to reinforce surveillance of the fisheries activities also finds its response in the budget (+ 29%). The agricultural budget is an area of concern. Although the guideline for agricultural spending increases significantly from 1995, there remain estimated requirements of ECU 890 million, which cannot currently be provided for in the 1996 budget. Furthermore there are a number of agricultural decisions still to be taken (for example the price package for 1995/1996 or the agrimonetary adjustment), which may impose further financing burdens on the Community budget. This would increase the likelihood that additional resources would have to be sought from the Member States for agricultural spending in 1996. With regard to administrative spending, the Commission proposes a restrictive approach. As far as its own administration is concerned, the rate of increase remains below the total increase of the budget. The additional staff requested is mainly due to the enlargement of the Union. The only other requests concern anti-dumping tasks and the strengthening of the financial management.