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"Mr President, it is customary to congratulate and thank the rapporteurs and I will do that as chairman of the committee, and there are three of them – let us not forget that. First of all, Mr Virrankoski who has done a thorough job. He came to this position halfway through the year; his attitude has been exemplary and he really deserves the congratulations of Parliament, not just the committee. Secondly, Mr Pittella who, as a new member, came to the committee and has made quite a significant point about the phasing-in of the ECSC funds. It is quite an innovative approach and he should be congratulated. And while we are giving out congratulations I shall also congratulate the Commissioner on her speech which was politically realistic. Well done Commissioner! But the main congratulations go to Mr Bourlanges. When Mr Bourlanges began he said it was the first time he had had 15 minutes to speak in Parliament, and my immediate thought was “yes and that will not be long enough”. Sure enough it was not long enough – he exceeded it by almost a minute and still had not said half the things he wanted to say. Mr Bourlanges, I congratulate you on your approach to the budget. It is fair to say there has never been a dull moment. You are pragmatic, innovative and, most importantly, serious. That is shown in your attitude towards the BATs. You may well be known as “BATman Bourlanges” although I cannot quite see you with a cape and mask, wearing underpants outside your pants, but you have done an extremely good job on the BATs! This first reading is predominantly about the asterisk amendment concerning Kosovo, the Morocco fisheries agreement, East Timor and Turkey, which was mentioned by the rapporteur. I have to stress this point quite clearly to the Council and – to a lesser extent – to the Commission because I think they understand. We take the interinstitutional agreement extremely seriously. There are forces within this Parliament which would quite happily see it scrapped tomorrow but as far as I am concerned my job – and the job of Parliament is to defend the agreement which we made earlier this year. We have shown that we are prepared to do that. If we were against it the Category 3 ceiling would have been exceeded, and on that point, incidentally, all three institutions have a problem with the amount deemed necessary for codecision lines such as Socrates. This is not just a problem for the year 2000, it is an ongoing problem. Can I say to both the presidency and the Commission that this is something we need to find a solution to together and quickly. The amendment for Category 4 should not be seen as Parliament just flexing its muscles. I hasten to add this is not a threat – though that may sound like a contradiction of something I have to say a little later on. But I do not want the Council to see it as a threat. We do not want the Council thinking that we think we have them “by the Balkans” so to speak; we are not trying to squeeze them too hard, though that may be the wrong phrase to use. It should be seen as an invitation for our two institutions to sit down and agree a solution. That is what we should be aiming to do, President-in-Office. We look forward to the proposal from the Commission which will come forward next week. In the light of what Mrs Schreyer has said, I look forward with anticipation. I hope the Council can do the same. But I do need to stress to the Council that this is not the Grand Old Duke of York marching his troops up the hill, just to march them down again. This is not just some act by Parliament to mount a show of force, but at the end of the day Member States will put pressure on individual Members whose parties are in government to get us to change our mind. Things do not work like that because of the majorities that now exist within this Parliament. If we do not get an agreement on the revision of the Financial Perspective especially, I am fairly certain that Article 272 will be invoked. There is no doubt about that and Council should be in no doubt about that whatsoever. That it is not a threat, it is a statement of intent. Let me reiterate the philosophy of two of my predecessors: Mr von der Vring and Mr Samland. I want the Council to take back this message. What we are fighting for is Parliament’s rights, we are not fighting for money. It is about the rights of this Parliament and that is the message they have to understand through and through. Once they understand that message I am quite sure that the discussions we should and will have will be fruitful. I know the political constraints that Member States are working within, we are all serious about – as you put it – the principles of cost efficiency and rigour. We abide by those same principles but in this instance, after what Parliament has fought for over the years, this revision of the interinstitutional agreement, a revision of the Financial Perspective as outlined in the interinstitutional agreement, is extremely important to Parliament. I hope that is understood."@en1

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