Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-04-03-Speech-2-017"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, the Committee on Budget’s proposed guidelines that we are now discussing attempt to be clear and concise in order to guide the evaluation of the proposed budget for 2002, and we hope that they address the issue which the people of Europe currently consider to be most important: the European Parliament must be the forum for protecting the interests of Europe’s citizens and for representing their political will and their democratic status. It is with this idea in mind that the following priorities have been defined: First of all, the issues of food safety and restoring consumer confidence, which go hand in hand with pursuing the reform of the common agricultural policy. BSE and foot-and-mouth disease have raised many issues. The establishment of a European food safety authority has become crucial; it must be an authority with real power to act. At the same time, a great deal is still expected of the Veterinary Inspection Office. We are waiting for decisions to be taken on this. The situation that I have described, together with the prospects of enlargement and the new round of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation, is determining the shift in the focus of our system of agricultural production. We need to quickly work out in which direction we are heading and why we are going there. We must start discussing this issue before 15 September. Let me clarify this aspect: what we want to have done, by that date, is to have begun the discussions that will lead to a shift in the focus of the common agricultural policy, not, obviously, to a thorough reform of it. In the meantime, we must keep in mind the tragic problems facing so many farmers and draw our conclusions from the facts. The European Parliament must be fully informed about everything, a situation which is a world away from the lack of decision-making power it currently suffers with regard to most expenditure in the field of agricultural policy, which is, therefore a thoroughly undemocratic situation. I would like to see codecision in this field and I feel that the distinction between compulsory and non-compulsory expenditure is conditioning the way a large part of European Union expenditure is monitored. Secondly, the budget must be implemented with greater rigour, efficiency and transparency. We attach the greatest importance to monitoring he implementation of the budget and to creating an effective link between such evaluations and the adoption of supplementary budgets and even of the budget for the following year. Hence my determination to ensure that, within the European Parliament, this task is carried out in the various specialist committees. Central to achieving this objective is the report that the Commission will present in June. Thirdly, the European Union’s external action must be effective, in line with objectives that have been set previously. We see the importance of the Union’s external action, both in our relations with neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans and with Russia, and in our relations with other parts of the world, with which we have traditionally worked in cooperation, and even in our contribution to the development of third countries. The potential for the EU’s external action justifies making sufficient funds available and also justifies the requirement for greater efficiency. Fourthly, we wish to see the creation of a genuine area of freedom, security and justice, as defined in 1999 by the Tampere European Council. There have been delays in implementing legislative and administrative measures that have been translated into the corresponding budgetary appropriations with a view to achieving an effective asylum and immigration policy, and there is cause for serious concern about clandestine immigration. We are seeing trafficking in human beings, the genuine social exclusion of millions of illegal immigrants and the despair that this situation generates deserves closer attention. This phenomenon calls for a multidisciplinary approach. My fifth point is that we must be committed to achieving the objectives laid down at the Lisbon European Council, specifically the objectives of making a real contribution to creating more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. We need our citizens to be prepared to live and work in an information and knowledge-based society and the European Union must play a key role in this field. The initiative must be ambitious because it is so crucial. We must move from preparatory action to adopting a legal basis that will ensure our prominence in this field. I live in an island region, which, under the terms of Article 299 of the Treaty, is called an ‘outermost’ region. I am therefore aware of what geographical barriers are and how the European Union can help to break them down. I am aware, however, that the Union contains many other barriers, which are more difficult to discern than geographical ones. The survival of this project, which can never be considered to be over or completed, depends on our ability to break down all of these barriers. Let us find the courage to fight on. I shall conclude by turning to the other institutions and stating my desire that we can work together and cooperate as closely as possible on this budgetary procedure."@en1

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