In the context of its second reading of the text, on December 17, the European Parliament approved the EU's 1999 Budget in much the same form it took after the Council of Ministers November 24 second reading. The commitment appropriations are increased by 16.1 million to reach Euro 96.928 billion and payment appropriations by 20.1 million to attain 85.557 billion. Notwithstanding the opinion of the general rapporteur, Barbara 'Duhrkop Duhrkop (PES, Spain), no majority support emerged in the end to allow the Council compromise on heading 2 (Structural Actions) to be amended. Similarly, the MEPs refrained from placing half of the personnel funding, provided for in heading 5 (administrative expenses) in a reserve. The Council of Ministers has now rubber-stamped the Parliament-sponsored version of the Budget.

The key reason behind the Parliament's decision to amend its first-reading vote, on October 22, was the December 8 Council statement on...

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