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". Mr President, the Commission would like to present the preliminary draft budget which we adopted on 27 April. This is the last budget for this current financial perspective. In our draft, we concentrate on the main political goals agreed by the Commission and Parliament, relating to four main policy areas: the relaunched Lisbon Agenda, security and solidarity, enlargement, and external relations. I will discuss these four policy areas. In the external relations field, accommodating the new 2006 priorities while at the same time ensuring the continuity of ongoing cooperation programmes is not possible within the predetermined ceiling. That is why the Commission proposes recourse to the flexibility instrument for the major part of the reconstruction aid for Asia. We would like to emphasise that, for the fifth time in seven years, the ceiling fixed in Berlin will not be sufficient. I now turn to the global figures of the 2006 budget. The Commission’s proposal refers to amounts of EUR 112.6 billion in payments and EUR 121.3 billion in commitments. The respective increases are 6% and 4%. That represents 1.02% of the European Union’s GNI in payments and 1.09% of the European Union’s GNI in commitments. Bearing in mind the ongoing negotiations on the future financial perspective, I would like to point out that the Commission is asking for what is necessary and sufficient at this stage to finance the Union’s policies in 2006. It should be kept in mind that today we are talking about the annual budget. This preliminary draft budget for 2006, which already represents 1.02 % of the EU’s GNI in payments, does not take account of the needs of future enlargement to Bulgaria and Romania, or of the complete integration of new Member States, in particular in relation to the agriculture and cohesion policies that have already been decided upon, nor, of course, does it take account of increased investment in growth and jobs, as required under the relaunched Lisbon Agenda. I am sure that this is going to be an important year for all of us and I can assure you that the Commission will strive to help the budget authorities to reach a good agreement on the 2006 budget for the Union and its citizens. The core priority of this budget is the relaunched Lisbon Agenda, which aims to strengthen economic growth and create jobs. The European budget contributes to this objective with three sets of policies: internal policies, agricultural development and structural policies. Concerning internal policies, an increase of 2% is envisaged. Contributing directly to the Lisbon goals, research and development will record an increase of 4.7%. The common agricultural policy also shows a clear overlap with the goals of the Lisbon Strategy. The year 2006 will be the first year when the funds from direct income will be transferred into rural development spending, which will be boosted to 13.6 %. The European structural funds together will see an increase of 5% and reach EUR 44.6 billion. Their core tasks are to enhance the growth potential of lagging regions and to increase employment opportunities. Added up, all these actions contribute to the goals of the Lisbon Strategy and account for at least one third of the budget. To come back to the other main objectives of the budget, solidarity and security, the Commission proposal foresees measures to improve social and environmental security, ensure fundamental rights and promote active citizenship, especially for young people. The fight against terrorism, improving food and transport safety, and security of energy supply are also among the priority measures, for which the preliminary draft budget proposes an increase of 5%. To conclude on internal policies, I would like to stress that the Commission’s proposal leaves enough margin for the budget authorities, and in particular Parliament, to increase the budget for those programmes which it considers necessary. But these increases will have to be discussed with the Council. The Commission is, of course, ready to help and support this initiative. The next priority is to make enlargement a success. The further phasing-in of the new Member States is reflected in all the internal headings, with particularly sharp increases in structural – up to 30% – and rural development policies – up to 9%. On the administrative side, this phasing-in is also reflected in the request for 700 new posts. For candidate countries, the Commission proposes to budget only the amounts that have already been endorsed for the respective pre-accession strategies. To support these pre-accession strategies, the Commission is also requesting 100 new external personnel positions."@en1

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