Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-01-17-Speech-1-067"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, ah, now I see Commissioner Fischler is here, and there I was thinking that you would not be coming. Welcome to Parliament! Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot overlook the fact that the benefits of the European internal market are reaped most of all by the wealthy regions, and even there they are not enjoyed by all sections of the population. How long do we actually intend to allow this kind of development to go on for, resulting as it does in the widening gulf between poor and wealthy regions? This is what I expect the outcome of the Community development programmes to be, and I do not expect you to give way on this again. How else otherwise do we propose to reduce the unemployment rate? Not by continuing to wait and trying to cheat our way through again. We cannot wait. In a few years time we will no longer be able to spend so much money on implementing European structural policy because a great many more countries will be joining us and then we will have no choice but to create much improved, more efficient and more concentrated structures. And that will only be the beginning. I therefore expect the Commission to take Parliament’s demands seriously in the course of the negotiations and to actually put the European position into practice here, giving a progressive regional policy a chance at long last. Whilst, in the fifth report on the situation in the regions, unemployment was seven times higher in the poor regions than in the wealthy regions, the sixth report is already talking in terms of it being eight times higher, despite the fact that European structural funds are pouring into the regions. Hence, it will, of course, come as no surprise to anyone that the very preamble to the new structural funds regulation places great emphasis on the call for the funds to be implemented more efficiently and in a more concentrated manner in order to achieve the European objectives of high employment levels and sustainable development, to name but a few. Parliament, but above all the Member States, demanded massive improvements. This was very soon forgotten, however, when the Commission developed the new instrument for the purpose, the guidelines, and wanted to make the requirement for there to be efficiency, concentration, and simplification of administration in the implementation of the European structural funds more binding. Subsequently, the Member State governments referred to the principle of subsidiarity and just wanted to get their hands on the money. And so all that remained of the 1999 Berlin Summit was the indicative nature of the guidelines. However, this at least places the Commission under the obligation to approve only those programmes that will actually enable European objectives to be achieved. I may have my doubts as to whether this indicative instrument will actually succeed in achieving efficiency and increased concentration and in actually putting the European objectives into practice, but it is a fact that the guidelines will be of central importance to the negotiations for the Community development programme. If you want our work at European level to be taken seriously, then you must also take it seriously yourselves! Parliament was not in a position to go into the content of the guidelines because it was not consulted until the legislative period was long since past. Now that the programming phases are so far on, there is little point in starting from scratch again. That is why in my report I concentrate on the strategic nature of the instrument, with the blessing of the committee. Firstly, the report assesses the impact of the instrument per se. Secondly, it uncovers the shortcomings in the Commission document. For example, the question of partnership was simply left out of the central part of the structural funds. One searches the document in vain for the central principle, which calls upon the Member States to see that programmes are implemented at local level in conjunction not only with the local authorities and regions but also with local actors, business and social organisations, NGOs, unions, employers’ associations, women’s organisations, citizens’ initiatives and employment initiatives. The question as to why it was left out has not been answered to date. Parliament makes demands here that are of central importance. It expects the Commission to only approve those programmes established on the basis of partnerships of this kind. It surprised me, Members of the Conservative Group, to suddenly find that amendments aimed at dropping the decentralising approach had been produced overnight. All I can say is try taking this to your regions and explaining to your electorate why the European principle of decentralisation is not to be put into practice in the regions. Let me tell you, you will not escape from that one unscathed! We cannot have a situation where we agree principles in this House and, when it comes to implementing them, everyone does their own thing again. Incidentally, I would just like to address a comment to the government of my country, where there is a desire simply to ignore the horizontal Community policy concerning environmental protection and where it was maintained that there was no need to implement the FFH guideline. I believe it is a good thing that the Commission is holding firm here. This brings me to my final point. The guidelines must serve as the hard and fast criteria we use to assess whether Article 1 of the regulation is actually being implemented. I expect the Commission to ensure that the guidelines, which certainly allow for adequate flexibility, are in every sense the benchmark for the negotiations. We represent the European position. In other words, sustainability in transport policy must be taken into account every bit as much as the entitlement of women to a share of financial support, as must the fact that each programme should make provision for the overall contribution, thus enabling there to be sustainable urban development and truly model projects in rural areas."@en1

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