The European Union's executive body has approved a larger proposed budget for 2010 aimed at promoting economic growth. Almost half of the funds are to be spent on jobs, infrastructure and competitiveness.
The Commission hopes its new budget will help create more jobs
The European Commission on Wednesday approved a preliminary draft budget for 2010 worth 138.6 billion euros ($183.6 billion). The largest share of funds – 45 percent – will go into growth and employment measures.
"This budget targets measures to help avert an even sharper downturn," Siim Kallas, the commissioner responsible for the EU budget, told a news conference in Brussels.
Kallas said six billion euros are earmarked for research and innovation, while some nine million citizens will receive support through the European Social Fund.
Siim Kallas deals with all administrative affairs at the EU
The Commission said in a statement that directing funds into projects to save and create jobs, help companies and restore competitiveness would be the EU's top priority.
Traditionally, farm expenditure has been the largest item in the EU budget. But 2010 will be the EU's third consecutive annual budget in which spending on measures to boost economic growth and research and development will be higher. Still, around 40 percent of the budget will go to the farm sector.
The preliminary draft budget's total spending plans are a 3.8 percent rise from 2009. The bloc's 27 member states are contributing 1.18 percent of their gross national income to the European Commission. In return, national governments will receive 122.3 billion euros from Brussels.
The EU's 12 newest member states will receive the largest share of the Cohesion and Structural Funds, the Commission said. The mostly ex-communist countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 will receive 52 percent of the bloc's regional development aid, for the first time getting more than the 15 older members of the bloc.
The final adoption of the EU budget will take place during the European Parliament plenary in December.