By Andreas Mavroyiannis - 12th October 2012
The MFF can be the cement that will reconcile fiscal austerity and the need for growth and lay the ground for the consolidation of economic and monetary union, whatever the pace or the extent individual member states might wish to go
With the current economic crisis in Europe it is essential that we improve the quality of our spending, argues Andreas Mavroyiannis
The negotiations for the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2014–2020 are a top priority for the Cyprus presidency. We are committed to working towards the goal of reaching an agreement before the end of 2012, as also mandated by the European council back in June. This agreement is indispensible for ensuring predictability of investment for Europe and also for enhancing the union’s capacity to act. Failure to reach a timely agreement will deprive the union from its basic tools and will contribute to further loss of confidence and credibility.
An agreement should not be sacrificed because of disagreement on numbers, which only represent a small percentage of the EU’s gross national income. The essence of the MFF lies in its political direction and, from the council’s side, it has been affirmed that the final agreement must correspond to goals set out during June European council; an MFF which will put the European economy back on the growth path. The right mix of solidarity, discipline, vision and sense of purpose, as well as an attachment to our fundamental values and ideals and the preservation of our social cohesion, deep rooted in our approach, will guide us in this effort.
Working towards this aim, it cannot be ignored that the union is facing the worst economic crisis in its history and, as a consequence, many member states are undergoing efforts to consolidate their public finances, efforts defined by drastic cuts in national budgets. One can argue that when such sacrifices take place at national level, the European level cannot remain immune to cuts. This is why improving quality of spending is a must. At the same time we cannot disregard European added value, economies of scale, synergy and complementarity. The MFF can be the cement that will reconcile fiscal austerity and the need for growth and lay the ground for the consolidation of economic and monetary union, whatever the pace or the extent individual member states might wish to go.
During the presidency, we will act purely as an honest broker, using the maieutic method of Socrates, in order to bring out the best we have in us under the current circumstances. At the general affairs council meeting in September, ministers discussed the revised negotiating box prepared by the Cyprus presidency, following on the footsteps of the Danish presidency. The content of the proposal will continue to be amended, it is and will remain until the last minute, a work in progress reflecting the constant osmosis between work done at various institutional levels in order to facilitate an agreement.
Our ambition is to take the MFF to the heads of state and government in the November extraordinary European council, at the right level of maturity, building on the existing momentum, in order to render possible a compromise. We will therefore work cautiously and ambitiously in order to prepare the ground for the EU council president and the heads of state and government to reach a satisfactory compromise keeping all stakeholders, member states, the commission and parliament on board. This is a ‘sine qua non’ if we want to finalise the adoption of the MFF regulation before the end of the year, after parliament has given its consent. Sectoral work through community method and co-decision will also advance in parallel, as well as work on the revenue side, including own resources.
The next MFF can have a prominent role to play in achieving Europe’s attempts to restore growth and long-term stability. As the most formidable investment tool we have in our hands for fostering growth and job creation, for filling the gap that separates us from our duty to bequeath a better world to the younger generation, for exiting the crisis, it requires and deserves a truly consensual approach and pragmatic compromises.
Andreas Mavroyiannis is Cyprus' deputy minister to the president for European affairs