13 March 2013
MEPs today debated Thursday’s economic-orientated EU summit, as well as the agreement on the EU’s seven-year budget, with European Commission President Barroso and the Irish Presidency. European Conservatives and Reformists group chairman Martin Callanan said that when it comes to both the EU budget and national spending, the answer is not more taxpayers’ money, but better policies that stimulate growth from successful business
MEPs today debated Thursday’s economic-orientated EU summit, as well as the agreement on the EU’s seven-year budget, with European Commission President Barroso and the Irish Presidency. European Conservatives and Reformists group chairman Martin Callanan said that when it comes to both the EU budget and national spending, the answer is not more taxpayers’ money, but better policies that stimulate growth from successful business.
The European Parliament will today vote on a resolution which opens negotiations with the European Council regarding the next seven-year budget, following the deal between EU leaders last month. Mr Callanan repeated calls for the European Parliament to hold its final vote on whether to accept or reject the budget in an open manner, avoiding a secret ballot that had been planned by the leaders of the EPP, S&D, ALDE and Green groups.
EU budget deal
“Now I know that many here are tired of austerity and would like a quick return to the “spend, spend, spend” mentality of the past when Governments tried desperately to win popularity by bribing their electorates with their own money. Or, worse still, by bribing them with their children’s money with excessive borrowing which of course eventually has to be paid off by future generations.
“But that era had to end. Across Europe borrowing was out of control, caused in many cases by easy access to cheap credit as a result of the euro.
“And even if things seem a little calmer for the moment, we must not forget that the underlying problems have not gone away. Some in this chamber like to claim otherwise but the state of public finances across Europe is still poor and so austerity cannot sensibly be avoided.
“It is therefore only right that the EU should play its part.
“When describing the EU budget, you can use words like ‘investment’ if you like but spending is spending and the money has to be found from somewhere. It is simply extraordinary that some in this chamber seem to think that our member states should raise more taxes or borrow more money just to hand over to the EU so it can have a bigger budget.
“That is why the MFF deal is so important. We need a financial framework that respects the sacrifices being made in our member states.
“Now I have already said that the deal is not perfect. I would have preferred to see a budget designed for 21st century priorities: with more support for R&D, and less for agriculture; more for new Member States and less on administration.
“However, the deal reached by our leaders was a compromise between many competing demands and so our position is one of ‘yes, but’ rather than ‘no, unless’ and this is reflected in our motion to be voted on shortly.
“I am pleased that this Parliament, after its initial frenzied posturing, is now beginning to come round to a grudging acceptance of the numbers. My group can support some of the requests being made today: such as a mid-term review of the budget under unanimity; greater flexibility between headings.
“But we continue to oppose new own resources. It would be devastating for Europe’s economy if we allowed this House to raise taxes to fund whatever pet projects it dreams up.
“Let me turn to the idea of a secret ballot. I respect the rights of all members to ask for a secret vote in some circumstances. But that provision was never designed to allow members to hide from democratic scrutiny of their decision on legislation or the budget.
“If we are not accountable for our actions in one of the most important votes we will take in this mandate, how can we claim any kind of democratic legitimacy in the future?
“Now normally in these debates I like to quote Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan but today, Mr President, I want to quote you because you said, regarding a possible secret ballot on Turkey in 2005, “We believe that Europe’s citizens have a right to know how Members of the European Parliament are voting”.
“On this occasion, Mr President, I agree with you. For the sake of our standing in the dock of public opinion, we must resoundingly reject the idea of such a secret ballot once and for all.
“That is why my Group has tabled an amendment today calling for a transparent decision on the MFF. Whilst it cannot override the Rules of Procedure, it would be a clear and unambiguous statement that the majority in this house want normal democratic procedures to apply to our vote on the MFF. I urge all members to support it.
European Council meeting
“Finally let me turn to a positive growth agenda for tomorrow’s European Council meeting.
“No-one should be allowed to get away with the idea that we have to choose between austerity and growth. Sustainable growth is not achieved by throwing taxpayers’ money at the economy. It comes from having the right policies in place.
“That is why we welcome President Barroso initiative to publish a list of the ten most burdensome laws affecting small businesses. If every small business took on just one extra member of staff, Europe would have no unemployment crisis.
“We need a reform agenda which places the creation of jobs and wealth by successful business at its very heart. I call on all groups here to support it.”
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