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". Mr President, firstly I wish to thank the German Presidency and in particular Dalia Grybauskaitė for their excellent levels of cooperation, as well as the Chairman of the Committee on Budgets and all the coordinators and shadow rapporteurs from the political groups. The Commission communication on the annual policy strategy is the first step in drafting the new budget. Parliament’s response will be its initial position. Firstly I want to speak about the communication’s structure. The Commission employs its own system of classification to define policy areas: prosperity, solidarity, security, freedom and the strengthening of Europe’s position in global policy. This division is difficult to follow because it does not correspond to the structure of the multiannual financial framework strategy any more than it does the budget. For the sake of transparency this classification should be reconsidered in the future. The Commission presents a strategy which concerns, for example, climate change and action in the energy sector. The Lisbon Strategy is still important, as are the control of immigration and measures which make the Union a stronger global actor, but these are just some of Parliament’s priorities. Parliament’s main objectives also include the successful completion of approved programmes, less bureaucracy and better, more effective and appropriate administration. In connection with this year’s budget it was agreed to review the deployment of staff. This screening operation is supposed to be completed this month. Parliament thinks it is very important. Activity-based budgeting and management is the key to better administration. It began to be developed after the resignation of the Santer Commission. Parliament wants to emphasise how important it is to continue this development. Only in that way can we boost efficiency, lessen bureaucracy and clarify responsibilities. The annual reports submitted by the Directors-General are an important part of this. Administration became central to this report because the Commission once again proposed several decentralised agencies: two executive agencies and another, the European Institute of Technology, for research. In addition, the intention is to increase the funding of several agencies at the expense of operational appropriations. Decentralised agencies are problematic because they are funded out of different budget headings and even programmes. Their administrative expenditure therefore does not normally come under heading 5, which makes for a lack of clarity. Secondly, the staff employed in such agencies will not necessarily show up in the EU budget. For this reason, it is important to monitor total staff numbers in the EU. Thirdly, the agencies’ areas of responsibility may be unclear. It needs to be made fully clear to the public who is responsible for what decisions. It is this very facelessness of decision-making which emerges as an enormous barrier when it comes to evaluating the confidence the public has in the European Union. Fourthly, we have to ask how a hierarchical administration can benefit execution, if it does at all. Thus, Parliament will be examining very closely the establishment of the new decentralised agencies and other administrative expenditure. For all these reasons, Parliament and the Council in the trilogue agreed on a resolution to give attention to these matters and urge the Commission to introduce certain further measures. Another problem is delays in programmes that have already been agreed upon. The Commission has built a policy strategy for next year largely to delay programmes that have already been decided upon. This kind of frontloading and backloading are uncalled-for, as the multiannual financial framework has only been in effect for a few months. Programmes which have been decided must go ahead according to plan. Moreover, taking funding from margins is a way to reduce further Parliament’s opportunities, for example, to invest in pilot projects and preparatory actions, especially under headings 1a and 3. Another danger is the continued growth in unspent commitments, RALs, which makes it harder later on to achieve policy objectives. Parliament’s policy objectives concern, as I mentioned before, the Lisbon Strategy, sustainable climate and energy policy, the swift implementation of structural and cohesion policy, firm immigration control, a proper information and communication policy, and a jointly agreed foreign and security policy. We hope that the Preliminary Draft Budget will establish a fruitful basis for drafting next year’s budget."@en1

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