Parliament wants more flexibility within the EU budget to meet current and future needs. In a resolution passed on Wednesday, it urges the Council to enter into policy negotiations on its budget proposal for 2007-2013. The current (March 2010) proposal is deemed too rigid to provide sufficient funding to meet new challenges, including those arising out of the Lisbon Treaty.
The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) sets annual ceilings for commitments and payments by category of expenditure. It had to be revised to bring it into line with the Lisbon Treaty, but a draft interim report by Reimer Böge (EPP, DE), approved today, criticises the Council proposal as "purely technical", and "insufficient for Parliament to give its consent."
"The Council proposal does not add the resources necessary to deliver initiatives that were not foreseen when the current MFF was adopted in 2006. The most obvious ones are the new priorities included in the Lisbon Treaty, like the external action service, climate change, energy, civil protection, sports and space. But even before the addition of these new priorities, the annual budgets could only be agreed by exhausting the existing margins", said Mr Böge, adding that "for the coming years, the remaining margins under the ceilings of the framework are estimated to be negligible."
To meet current and future needs, Parliament would like to see wider margins and reserves built into the framework. This means more flexibility to make changes within and between budget headings.
Parliament also calls on the Council and the Commission to consider rejigging the budget by establishing "positive" and "negative" priorities, bearing in mind the EU's added value. Commission and Council should finally come up with the long-awaited mid-term review (due in 2009), of all the aspects of EU spending and resources, so that a real policy debate can be held on future priorities.
The Böge report was approved with 445 votes in favour, 39 against and 18 abstentions.
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