EP challenges member states on budget 2014-2020
Members of the European Parliament have demanded a long-term EU budget that invests in research and competitiveness - as promised by EU leaders at the June summit - in a debate on Tuesday morning. They also challenged governments calling for big cuts to say what policies should be scrapped as a result.
Most of Parliament's political group leaders on Tuesday said that the European Council missed an opportunity to take real decisions at its latest summit. The EU needs more ambition from the Council on banking supervision and the long-term EU budget, and less of a focus on austerity, they stressed in Parliament's regular post-summit plenary debate. The issue of gender balance in the European Central Bank was also raised.
The debate was opened by European Council and Commission Presidents Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso.
Joseph Daul (EPP, FR), stressed the need for a good multiannual EU budget and called on all sides to act responsibly. Hannes Swoboda (S&D, AT) said the summit had delivered too little on growth. He called for a growth policy to replace the growth pact and for a social pillar to be included in the blueprint for economic and monetary union to be agreed in December. The need to focus less on austerity and more on growth was also stressed by Rebecca Harms (Greens/EFA, DE) and Gabriele Zimmer (GUE/NGL, DE)
Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) and Martin Callanan (ECR, UK) both criticised the summit for effectively freezing true progress on banking supervision until the German federal elections. Nigel Farage (EFD, UK) said that the summit had produced more of the usual dangerous results.
Mr Van Rompuy described Monday's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee vote on Yves Mersch's nomination to the ECB Executive Board as an "understandable expression of concern". He told MEPs that he had appealed to heads of state and government at the summit "to identify and propose good female candidates for vacant posts at European level, in particular in the economic and financial sectors".
"Put your money where your mouth is", MEPs tell Member States
Future EU budgets for research and competitiveness must be increased, as unanimously promised by EU leaders at their June 2012 summit, said the European Parliament in a resolution voted on Tuesday. MEPs warned member states not to make cuts in growth-stimulating policy areas when they adopt their position for the final negotiations on the EU's next long-term budget plan.
Ivailo Kalfin (S&D, BG) and Reimer Böge (EPP, DE), the two MEPs leading Parliament's negotiations on the EU budget for 2014-2020, known as the multiannual financial framework (MFF), welcomed Parliament's strong support for the resolution as a signal to the EU Heads of State and Government who will discuss the MFF at a special European Summit on November 22 and 23, 2012.
MEPs underline that any possible eurozone budget must be subject to proper democratic accountability through the existing EU institutions and that, as laid down in the treaties, any new budgetary capacity must be part of the EU budget.
The resolution was adopted with 517 votes in favour, 105 against and 63 abstentions.
Responding to certain member states' threats to make deep cuts in the Commission's budget proposal, MEPs challenged the Council - if it proposes cuts - to identify clearly and publicly which of its political priorities or projects should be dropped altogether. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The member states are very good at endorsing ambitious objectives like the most recent Growth Pact for Europe. But when it comes to sustaining the objectives with necessary funding, the finance ministers take over. If the EU does not put the money where its mouth is, we will not reach our goals, resulting in further loss of legitimacy amongst our citizens and our international partners", said Mr Kalfin.
Measures taken since 2008 have not yet put an end to the economic and financial crisis, MEPs note. Arguing that a well-targeted, robust and adequate EU budget is needed to help coordinate and enhance national efforts, they call for "significant increases" in EU budget funding for competitiveness, small business development, entrepreneurship, sustainable infrastructure and research and innovation.
Given the "pressing need to secure public investment in growth and jobs" MEPs want the budget for cohesion policy and common agricultural policy (CAP) to be maintained "at least at the level of the 2007-2013 period", but used more effectively.
Parliament wants a more transparent and fairer method of financing the budget, without rebates or corrective mechanisms. In a separate resolution, also voted on Tuesday, it calls for a simpler VAT own-resource system for the EU. Furthermore, MEPs welcome the planned financial transaction tax and say it should be used to reduce the national contributions to the EU of those countries that introduce it.
A special EU summit on the next MFF will be held in November, with the aim of reaching a political agreement to form the basis for the subsequent negotiations between the Council and Parliament.
Parliament can veto the MFF regulation, which sets out the maximum figures per spending heading and for each year of the MFF period. It decides jointly, and on equal terms, with the Council on multiannual programmes to run during the budget period.