Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-03-28-Speech-3-181"

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"Madam President, before I start, I should like on behalf of the Committee on Budgets – and please do not include this in my speaking time – to express our displeasure at the fact that we are so far behind our published timetable. As a result, Mr Lamassoure can no longer be present for the reasons stated. I would therefore ask you to bear with me, because I have only just been informed that I will have to read out his speech in the original version, that is in French. The booths each have a copy. That is why five minutes will be rather tight, because French is unfortunately only my third foreign language. However, there is still no consensus on the urgency and content of a second phase. As far as we are concerned, this second phase is crucial. It would consist in selecting, among the existing fiscal resources, those that could gradually take the place of national contributions without increasing the burden on taxpayers. At this stage, the progress report merely lists taxes that could be used for this allocation, without making any recommendation. That will be the aim of a second report, which I shall submit at the end of the year, following a final interparliamentary conference devoted to this issue that the Portuguese Presidency has announced for 4 and 5 November. Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the report on the future of own resources is very important. Your Committee on Budgets has adopted an original political approach. The report submitted to Parliament is an initial progress report. Firstly, the subject is a major one: behind the political crisis, the Union is going through an equally serious budgetary crisis. The agreement on the financial perspective could only be reached at the price of the Community budget’s stagnating. The budget provides funding for the CAP and aid for the new Member States, but does not, for instance, allow funding for the transport networks or Galileo and allows virtually nothing at all for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. We rejoiced over the successes of the Union, an ever closer Union that was launched by the Treaty. Let us have the courage to recognise that, in budgetary matters, for the last 50 years the Union has become less and less ‘close’: budgetary solidarity has not increased; it has actually decreased overall. Ten years ago, the European budget represented 1.17% of GDP, whereas today, the 2007 budget accounts for scarcely 0.99%. The first Treaties laid down the principle of funding Community expenditure with Community resources, that is to say, with fiscal resources directly allocated to the Union: either national resources such as customs duties, or even a genuine European tax, for example a tax on the turnover of steel and coal undertakings in the context of the ECSC. Certain of my fellow Members who are very concerned about national sovereignty seem to have completely forgotten that the Treaties to which they adhered, sometimes after a referendum, precisely included a European tax. However, this tax no longer exists; it has not been revived, and customs duties now yield only 10% of the Union’s resources. These days, the bulk of these resources comes from contributions from the national budgets, and that is the reason for the Community funding crisis. The only way to resolve it is to return to the spirit and the letter of the Treaty of Rome, and to do so by relieving the national budgets and by funding Community expenditure with new fiscal resources directly allocated to the cover of this expenditure. Conscious as they are of the problem, the European leaders have arranged to meet in 2008-2009 in order to re-open the entire dossier on the European budget, the resources heading and the expenditure heading being merged together. This commitment is specifically stated in the agreement on the financial perspective. Next comes the political approach, which is original. In view of the extremely sensitive nature of the issue, the Committee on Budgets proposed to involve the national parliaments’ finance committees, and to do so from the start of our work. In two years, we held four joint meetings, and the rapporteur travelled to the capital cities of half of the Member States. The aim is not for an agreement to be reached between all of the parliaments. This would be neither legally nor politically possible. Furthermore, no procedure exists to allow the national parliaments to give an opinion, but we can prepare the ground for the Commission and the Council, clear up any misunderstandings, take note of any points of agreement and common political approaches, and come to an agreement on initiatives to be excluded or to be looked into further. Today’s report is therefore a progress report, which aims at taking stock of the subjects on which there is a fairly broad consensus with the interlocutors appointed as delegates to us by the national parliaments. This consensus takes three forms: consensus on the diagnosis of the weaknesses of the current system, consensus on the political direction of a reform and consensus on the content of a first phase, which could begin fairly quickly and which would consist, first and foremost, in simplifying the current system. Thus, instead of obeying rules that have become infinitely complex over the years, contributions from national budgets would be calculated simply on the basis of GDP."@en1

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