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Callanan: EU Budget deal not perfect but European Parliament should stand behind it

18 February 2013

Speaking today in a European Parliament debate with Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Martin Callanan MEP called on MEPs to avoid going to war with national governments over the agreement they reached on the EU’s next seven-year budget.

Speaking today in a European Parliament debate with Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso, European Conservatives and Reformists group leader Martin Callanan MEP called on MEPs to avoid going to war with national governments over the agreement they reached on the EU’s next seven-year budget.

In the debate with leaders of the parliament’s political groups, Mr Callanan said that the deal reached was not perfect, largely because President Hollande refused to allow ‘madness’ levels spent on French agriculture to be redirected to pro-growth areas of the budget.

However, he called on other groups to back the compromise reached, and he spoke out against plans for a secret ballot of MEPs, arguing that MEPs must be able to defend their voting record on this matter before their taxpayers.

He said: “President Van Rompuy, on behalf of my group, I would like to thank you for your work towards delivering this agreement.

“Now we do not argue that this deal is perfect. Far from it. However, we do believe that it represents a sensible and pragmatic balance; a compromise between contributor countries demanding better spending, and those who understandably want to protect their net positions.

“And it should have been easily possible to have significantly reformed the EU’s budget towards growth priorities. However, despite the rhetoric from the Socialists today, the ‘Shining Light’ of the Socialists, President Hollande showed that his priority was not in fact a growth strategy for Europe, it was a growth strategy for French cows. Without this intransigence, we could have reduced the CAP, made it fairer for newer Member States, and redirected billions more Euros into the competitiveness agenda. Yet President Hollande continues to defend the indefensible: 40 percent of the budget still being spent on farming – in the 21st century. Madness!

“Now I’m disappointed but not surprised by the teenage tantrums we’ve heard from other group leaders today.

“National governments, not this parliament, quite rightly raise the EU’s resources. They raise it from hard-working people who are struggling to pay their tax bills. It is not unreasonable that those people ask the EU to do more with less – as businesses and households across Europe are having to do throughout our Continent.

“What was remarkable about this deal was that leaders from across all the major groups in this House have pushed for this reduction in spending. David Cameron had many friends of better spending in the Council:

– Mr Rutte from ALDE/Mr Verhofstadt’s party,
– Mrs Merkel and Mr Reinfeldt from the EPP,
– even Mrs Thorning-Schmidt from the Socialists.
“The Greens of course have no Prime Ministers but we should all be grateful for that!

“Let me share with this House an email I received last week. It was from the Board of the Young EPP, saying: “the deal struck after long months of negotiations represents a good balance…. The European Parliament should vote responsibly in view of budget cuts and austerity measures throughout Europe.” EPP Members would do well to listen to the very sensible words of their own youth wing.

“Now let me address the point, made very publically by Martin Schulz, that this is in effect a ‘deficit budget’. My question is this: was every other budget agreed in recent memory – where commitments exceeded payments – also illegal?

“Turning to the ridiculous idea a secret ballot, it would make this Parliament a laughing stock ! Members of this parliament must be accountable to our electors over how we vote on this agreement. This is one of the most important votes that we will take, and we must be able to defend our decision to those very taxpayers who pay the EU’s bills..

“So Presidents, this is not a perfect deal. But if this parliament is to show it can exercise its new powers with the requisite responsibility then it should stand behind it. If this parliament decides to go to war with the Council then we will all suffer.”

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