Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-10-24-Speech-2-200"

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". Mr President, Mrs Wideroos, Mrs Grybauskaitė, ladies and gentlemen, allow me first of all to thank our two rapporteurs, Mr Elles and Mr Grech, who, through the work they have done and the tenacity they have shown, have been able to give direction to our work on this first reading of the budget. This budget, the first of the 2007-2013 programme, is a very modest one, representing only 1.04% of GDP. Not only is it very modest, but it is probably not up to the challenges facing the European Union: the energy crisis, the crisis of confidence, world conflicts and the increase in poverty and job insecurity, all coming at a time when Europeans are expressing ever more expectations of the European Union. The restricted framework forces very modest ambitions on us. Quality, and not just quantity, characterises the approach to this 2007 budget, therefore. The budget has also compelled us to adopt a hybrid strategy. Indeed, not only are our legal bases for the new policies not ready, but we are not ready, either, to champion and implement all the policies wished for by Europeans. We want to be ambitious, as people expect us to be, but we must also be realistic, as we do not know whether we shall be able to implement these policies. For the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, the minimum consisted in reinstating the preliminary draft budget for all the policies to which we are attached and, in particular, for the Lisbon objectives and the Gothenburg policies, not forgetting employment, solidarity, the environment and rural development. 2007 should be the year in which our communication policy is overhauled, given that Europeans have been very much forgotten up until now. Where external policy is concerned, I would also appeal for us to adopt a balanced approach to administration, particularly where the EU’s borders are concerned, as we cannot be satisfied with a unilateral approach that concentrates on law and order. I should like, if I may, to emphasise two important points: first of all, the role to be played under the heading of the EU budget by cofinancing involving the European Investment Bank, and this with a view to relaunching the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies; and, secondly, the role of pilot projects and preparatory actions, which have always favoured the birth of new ideas and which should be implemented. In reality, I am mostly concerned about the implementation of this budget. Our rapporteur has opted for spending with a qualitative focus. This amounts to championing the way in which our priorities have traditionally been financed, but it also constitutes an appeal to the Commission to respect fully the political choices made by Parliament. If, moreover, Parliament can make criticisms of the way in which policies are administered by the other institutions, it is because such criticism is authorised by the Treaty, the institutional agreements and actual practice. Parliament is one of the branches of the budgetary authority, and we do not wish to be dispossessed of our power as a result of abandoning all authority regarding the way in which our votes are brought into play. Is it fair, however, for us, in the name of that power, to make it more difficult for these same institutions to exercise their prerogatives? No. It would be dangerous, and even counter-productive, to try to intervene too much in administrative practice. I would also say to the Council that the Commission could not do better if, at the same time, we were to agree to freeze recruitment by that institution. However, we have little room for manoeuvre if – as we have cause to fear, given the latest line proposed - all our priorities are adjusted in accordance with the European Commission’s shortcomings in implementing policy. Finally, and in conclusion, I wanted to tell you, Mr President, that the Council must remember that it cannot impose its point of view, because we need together to comply with the priorities of the European political project and because, if we reduce the budget by too much, we shall no longer be able to develop any of these policies of which Europeans expect so much."@en1

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