So the European Parliament won’t reject the long-term budget deal hammered out by EU leaders on 8th February, will they?

The first debate on the budget for 2014-2020 (the MFF) since the agreement was held on 18 February in the European Parliament. This showed widespread opposition to the deal from major political groups. Only the European Conservatives and Reformists group hailed the deal, which needs approval of the Parliament.

European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group leader Martin Callanan called on MEPs to avoid going to war with national governments over the Union’s budget. He called on other groups to back the compromise, and spoke out against plans for a secret ballot of MEPs.

Callanan was alone in backing the deal amid strong parliamentary opposition. The leaders of the major political groups denounced the deal.

Joseph Daul, president of the centre-right EPP group, called the budget proposal “unacceptable”. The leader of the Socialists and Democrats group, Hannes Swoboda, said the deal had no support in Parliament. “In the present state, we have to say no to this budget. We have to have substantial negotiations, and only then will you have our support,” Swoboda told Van Rompuy and Barroso.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberal ALDE group, said that the agreed deal was a “budget for less Europe, not more Europe”, and spoke about the risk of rolling deficit. “Officially, we have no debt as this is prohibited by the treaty, but in reality, you are creating a debt of €300 billion,” he said.

Verhofstadt said this was not a budget the Parliament could accept, unless it was subject to a “sunset clause” whereby it would expire on a certain date unless re-authorised by the Parliament.

Parliament Vice President Isabelle Durant (Greens) said that Parliament should press for annual budgets for 2013 and 2014, and ask for a new budget to be negotiated after the EU elections in 2014.

This is just the opening salvo in negotiations not likely to be concluded until June or July, when there will be a vote in the european Parliament plenary session. But it is clear that MEPs do not regard the MFF (multi-annual financial framework) deal reached by EU leaders as a ‘take it or leave it’ affair.

On 14th March, the European Parliament voted against the MFF (long-term budget ) deal hammered out by EU leaders at the summit on 8th February. See elsewhere on this site for news, comment and analysis.