19 November 2013
MEPs have voted to finally approve the 2014-2020 EU budget.
MEPs have voted to finally approve the 2014-2020 EU budget. Speaking ahead of the adoption, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Martin Callanan MEP said the agreement shows that – despite a lot of posturing by MEPs over the past nine months – it is possible to reduce spending in the EU whilst adjusting priorities to add value.
Speaking in the debate ahead of the vote, Mr Callanan said that the parliament’s demands for significant budget increases, EU taxes, and an end to rebates, have all been rebuffed. Although a group will be set up to look into so-called EU ‘Own Resources’, Callanan reminded MEPs that national governments retain control over this matter under unanimity so he would ‘not lose much sleep’ over its creation.
Callanan also said that the ECR generally supports many of the spending programmes being adopted today that will continue to support newer EU Members, help build stronger infrastructure in the Single Market, and fund areas like cross-border research.
“Well, here we are nine months on. An awful lot of hot air expended. A lot of threats have been made that have never materialised. And at its core we still have the MFF deal that our national Governments negotiated in February.
“My group has always said that the next seven year budget should achieve two key principles: firstly, to reduce it, and secondly, to reprioritise it away from headings that do not add economic value in a 21st century global economy. This MFF is, in our view, a small step in the right direction.
“It did not go as far as we would have hoped. However, it shows that the costs of the EU can be reduced and the value to taxpayers can be increased.
“Today’s vote marks the culmination of a long process that began several years ago when this parliament began drafting the SURE committee report. That committee then proposed a five percent budget increase. It wanted new Own Resources and taxes on anything from flying to sales to CO2. And it called for the abolition of fully justified national rebates. Thankfully almost none of this has materialised.
“Only in the area of Own Resources has the parliament achieved a minor concession which will see a gaggle of so-called independent wise men from the three institutions dreaming up a whole host of new ways to spend more taxpayers’ money on their pet EU projects.However, I am certainly not going to lose much sleep over this Group. The Treaty is clear that Own Resources remain within the Council’s power under unanimity and I think, in our heart of hearts, we all know it is just not going to happen. Because new own resources would fundamentally change the relationship between the EU and national governments. Instead of being their servants, it would become their master, forcing them to raise revenue to spend on whatever new scheme takes this Chamber’s fancy. Those who call for new Own Resources are the same people who consistently call for ‘More Europe’ as the answer to all our ills. As if throwing money at the problem will somehow solve it. Instead, just as we need a better Europe, so we need better and more effective spending.
“That is why we generally welcome the outcome of the negotiations on the various spending regulations. Many of these programmes will help to promote cross-border research, to plug the holes in the Single Market’s infrastructure, and support the newer Members of the Union. However, these programmes are by their very nature multiannual, and they rely on certainty. The posturing we’ve seen from many in this parliament since February – but especially since the summer – will make it difficult for many to properly be up and running by January 1st.
“I do agree with this parliament in one important area however. The budgetary management of the European Commission has been appalling. We cannot and must not end up in a situation whereby we are regularly returning to national governments just like Oliver Twist constantly asking for more. And when overspends do occur, savings must be made from elsewhere to compensate. It is time the EU learnt to live within our means. A satisfactory outcome in these negotiations does not dampen our demands for root and branch budgetary reform.
“Overall, Mr President, this agreement represents a fair compromise between north, south, east, and west; between net contributors and net recipients. Nine months on and we are voting on an agreement that is fundamentally the same as it was in February. This parliament has postured and strutted during this unedifying process but in reality we can be clear that the Council’s common sense has prevailed. For us it serves as an illustration that it is possible to make the EU do less and do it better.”
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