By Giovanni La Via - 12th October 2012
Parliament is ready to come to the defence of our people and fight for a level of payments which is both appropriate and sufficient for us to be able to honour all the commitments assumed in previous years
Giovanni La Via
In this time of crisis, more Europe is needed, not less, and the EU budget should reflect this, writes Giovanni La Via
After the cuts introduced by the council, in contrast to indications emanating from the European summit meeting of 28-29 June, where it was decided to invest in order to sustain European growth and development, the budgets committee’s delegates have taken the decision to revive the commission’s draft budget. This, they hope, will strengthen the closely correlated lines with growth and job creation, particularly for young people.
The increases in question are selective because we are aware of the financial difficulties of each member state and have therefore opted for policies and programmes which have given excellent results to date and have a large-scale capacity for resource absorption. The delegates also highlighted the issue of payments. A few days ago, EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski informed us that the funds used to finance a number of important programmes, such as Erasmus and the policies of the European social fund, had been exhausted.
I am firmly convinced that we cannot contemplate jeopardising such European programmes as Erasmus. It is inconceivable that the council would not wish to make available the resources needed to finance these projects. This is the result of last year’s (2012) budget process, when the member states challenged the commission’s figures and payment estimates, which, in hindsight, proved to be correct.
While there can be no doubt that negotiating a budget in times of crisis makes the challenge that much more difficult, parliament is ready to come to the defence of our people and fight for a level of payments which is both appropriate and sufficient for us to be able to honour all the commitments assumed in previous years. Paying accounts and bills is a legal obligation – we cannot permit ourselves to fail in honouring our commitments. I believe that our response to this crisis should be more, not less, Europe. We must invest in the European budget, serving, as it does, to generate added value.
It has been shown that €1 spent at European level yields much more than the same euro invested at local level, an example of this being in the field of research where €1 spent by the European budget has a yield of €14.
The plenary vote, to be held on 23 October, will mark the start of the conciliation period. I very much hope that the council will be able, responsibly, to accept an agreement as to an appropriate level of resources in terms of payments – considered by the parliamentary negotiators to be the focal point of the discussions on approval of the 2013 budget. An important role will be played by the Cyprus presidency, which has already accepted our invitation to attend the inter-institutional meeting on payments on 26 September and has undertaken to do everything possible to reach a satisfactory agreement on 9 November.
Giovanni La Via is parliament's rapporteur for the 2013 general budget