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Commission adopts rigorous preliminary draft budget for 1997

While funding for research and development is increased by 8.5% in the Commission's preliminary draft budget for 1997, adopted on 30 April 1996, budgetary rigour has ensured an overall sharp slow-down compared to the previous year. In total, the expenditure proposals amount t...

While funding for research and development is increased by 8.5% in the Commission's preliminary draft budget for 1997, adopted on 30 April 1996, budgetary rigour has ensured an overall sharp slow-down compared to the previous year. In total, the expenditure proposals amount to ECU 174,439 million, representing an increase of only three per cent in resources provided by Member States compared to 1996. The 1997 Community budget is, however, in line with Member States' budgets in the run up to economic and monetary union. Without the substantial extra expenditure caused by the "mad cow crisis", EU budget growth would be limited to two per cent for 1997. The 1997 budget proposal sharpens the profile of Community expenditure. It strengthens Community support for activities which stimulate economic growth and employment. Trans-European networks are granted a 26% increase, while funding for cooperation with the Central and Eastern European countries (PHARE programme) and with the Mediterranean countries (MEDA programme) is further increased following the decisions of the European Council in Cannes in June 1995. Full provision is also made for EU assistance to the reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia, in line with the commitments made at the international donors' conferences. In addition to research and development and trans-European networks, the areas of internal policies which have been particularly reinforced are small and medium-sized enterprises, educational and training programmes (SOCRATES, LEONARDO DA VINCI and YOUTH FOR EUROPE), health programmes, the fight against drugs and cooperation in internal and justice affairs. As regards external policies, the Commission also proposes increased funding for assistance to the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union (TACIS programme), and for cooperation with Asia and Latin America. The Commission's proposal launches the budgetary procedure for 1997. Following two readings in both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, the Community budget for 1997 should be adopted by the Parliament in December 1996.