Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-10-24-Speech-2-179"

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"Mr President, thank you for introducing us to this first budgetary debate for 2007. At the outset I should like to thank all those who brought us to this stage, particularly those in the secretariat of Parliament’s Committee on Budgets and those associated with it. Without them it would have been impossible to get ourselves to this state of preparedness. Lastly in terms of payments, I have mentioned the common foreign and security policy, the CFSP. There are some in the Council who think that we are not being particularly generous in leaving it at a cut of 50%. There were those who wanted 100%, but we reached 50% as a good compromise because there are a range of people, particularly in the Committee on Foreign Affairs but also elsewhere in this Parliament, who would like to see the commitment entered into by the Council fulfilled for the way in which we handle the common foreign and security policy between Parliament and Council. Equally, in terms of the special representatives, where we are recommending that the whole sum be transferred to the EU delegations, the point we are making on first reading is that we want to have, if not special treatment, at least clarity in the way in which these people are appointed. As the amendment says, we would like to adopt guidelines for the decision to establish, select and appoint EU special representatives and for the regular assessment of their work. Turning now to the second aspect, which is value for money, this is an innovative concept where what we want to do is to stop throwing good money after bad. I do not think there is anybody in this House who has opposed this particular kind of concept, which is involved in identifying those lines where we know from the different reports available to us that the policies are being implemented poorly, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Thanks to the work of the Committee on Budgets – though it would have been nice if the rapporteur of the Committee on Budgetary Control could have contributed more to this process – by looking at our own cost benefit analyses, at the Court of Auditors’ reports, at the budget forecast alert and at the synthesis reports provided by the Commission, we have been able to identity a number of lines which we unanimously have voted into reserve at 30% on first reading in the Committee on Budgets. The intent is to be able to release these sums by the end of the year on second reading, so long as we can have a satisfactory explanation from the Commission on 15 November, when we will have a joint Committee on Budgets-Committee on Budgetary Control meeting to examine these lines and to see whether they are now operating positively. The whole idea behind this is that we can purge the budget of those lines which are operating ineffectively, and move towards what we are looking for, which is a positive statement of assurance. Where the Council has suggested that this might be against the Financial Regulation, I think Article 43(1)(b) makes it quite clear that where there are sufficient grounds for us to put monies in the reserve, then we are entitled to do so. It would be nice if, by the end of our process – maybe on the margins of our conciliation meeting with the Council on 21 November, or in our vote in December – we could come to a common statement by Parliament, the Council and the Commission on how we handle this concept of value for money on a regular basis, so that we can make it a part of our process, rather than something treated in an arbitrary manner. There are a few last comments on other aspects – budget control and value for money. The first of these is shared management: the problems about which we heard from the President of the Court of Auditors in the Budgetary Control Committee yesterday evening, when, much to my surprise and that of other colleagues, he said he was not particularly interested in shared management because the Council pays and it is the Commission that takes responsibility for signing off the budget. I do not think it is possible to have a statement of assurance unless the Member States sign up to their responsibilities under the budget for the funds that they pay, which amount to 75 or 80% of the budget. Therefore, shared management is something we think is important to have implementation of the IIA provision. Secondly, as regards work on the agency – which Mrs Haug has so ably coordinated for us – we are putting sums of money of the increases in reserves so that we can hear views from the agencies as to what they will be doing with their money and their work programmes in order to get value for money once again. Last but not least is the question on the administration, where the Council actions on first reading to effectively diminish the number of Commission posts by some 2000 in the next few years are something we have not been able to sign up to. We believe that we need a screening exercise of the Commission by 30 April 2007 so that we can understand what the mid-term demands of the Commission are before taking radical action to cut back. In addition to that, we would not only like a state of play from the Commission as to which of the outstanding regulations we could have withdrawn, but above all what we would like is to be sure that we have clarity between what we have here in the budget process and the legislative process of the work programme which is decided on by the Commission today; so that when we have a final decision on this budget, hopefully in December, and the resolution from Parliament on the legislative work programme, then both of these can be bound together and we can have the Commission President come to Parliament in February 2007 and tell us what the final work programme of the Union is. Otherwise it is unclear to citizens. In setting out the guidelines for the 2007 budget – one that is different from others in the sense that it has been the first budget in the new financial perspective – much of the first part of the year was spent in negotiating the result of the financial perspectives. Indeed it is a rare budget when we find that we do not yet have some of the programmes in place, because the multiannual programmes are in the process now of being completed as, let us hope, the Financial Regulation will be in place for the beginning of next year to be the basis for our operation. Therefore, I would conclude by saying that this is a budget which in terms of priorities is what I would call a budget which is consistent and forward-looking; in value-for-money terms, it is a budget which can be said to be coherent and prudent; and lastly, that in taking these two building blocks together, we will be able to look forward to the review which will be coming by 2008/2009 and have a very clear position for the European Parliament in order to ensure that where we need increases in particular policies or different actions to be taken on policy matters, we will be well prepared for that debate. In terms of general considerations, there are three that I should like to set out, which have shaped our strategic thinking in the Budgets Committee in presenting this budget to Parliament. Firstly, as we noted in the annual policy strategy (APS) discussions in May, which form the basis for our preparation for this budget, the speed of globalisation outside Europe is shaping our policies. I believe we have rightly criticised the Commission for taking a laid-back and complacent view on this. We need to be able to take account in our budgetary policies of the effects of what is happening elsewhere in the world. Secondly, we are acutely aware that the results of the financial perspective discussions have left us with fewer resources than we might otherwise have hoped, and therefore lead to the need for prioritisation in the way in which we shape our policies. Thirdly, we must communicate better with our citizens and give them the confidence that we are capable of running the budget effectively. That being said, what has the process now led to in what we voted for? First is the general outlook. In terms of commitments I believe we have been very prudent in allowing significant margins in the various parts of the budget, well under the ceilings provided for in the IIA; and for the first time since 2000 we are not requesting the flexibility instrument. On the question of payments, we have taken a horizontal approach that reflects the approach taken by Reimer Böge, as our rapporteur on the financial perspectives – whose report Parliament adopted – in outlining a number of priority areas; and this is what we have reflected in taking payments on first reading to 1.04%, yet again well beneath the ceiling allowed for 2007 of 1.06%. This is also keeping a ratio between commitments and payments below 80% in most cases. In terms of the pilot projects and preparatory actions, we have a range of different possibilities; in terms of internal policies, where we are wanting to underpin innovation, and where we are looking in terms of security at a major initiative on migration management, thanks to our friend and colleague Mr Deprez from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; and, last but not least, on external policy, to see what we can do to build up linkages with China and India, because, as reflected from the outset, in the present globalising world we do not have the right kind of networks which link our business and scientists with those of China and India. We are putting these in as preparatory actions to be approved under the 2007 budget."@en1

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