Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-05-16-Speech-3-354"

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". Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to begin by emphasising the need to respect the timetable unveiled by the Commission when it presented its preliminary draft budget. I must say that it did provide us with the information we needed. This is a further contribution to a positive climate for the debate on the proposed budget for 2002. My initial reaction to the preliminary draft budget is that, overall, I welcome the proposal to increase appropriations for commitment by 3.4% and for payment by 4.8%. The difference between these figures seems insufficient, given the need to make good payments that are overdue. I would point out that one of the European Parliament’s priorities is precisely to eliminate quickly the difference between commitments given and payments that have actually been guaranteed. To confirm our fears, the reduction of unpaid commitments (RAL), will be in appearance only. The truth is that, if the increase in appropriations is insufficient, paying the commitments that have been outstanding the longest will delay the payment of new commitments. This would be the equivalent of rehashing the RAL and would not solve the problem. The solution lies in paying off old RAL, specifically in categories 3 (internal policy) and 4 (external action), not in creating further RAL. With regard to this matter, we shall carefully analyse the progress report that is to be presented to us at the end of June, as was agreed, and we will continue to do everything we can to improve the budget’s implementation rates. In other words, we want to contribute to a more effective discharge of the European Union’s commitments. I have noted the fact that, despite the 4.8% increase proposed for payments, these will remain at a level of 1.06% of the European Union’s GDP, whereas the financial perspective would allow the figure to reach 1.10% in 2002. I must also stress that we shall be undertaking a thorough assessment of the Commission’s commitment to the priorities defined by Parliament which feature in the broad economic guidelines adopted in April. In the agricultural sector in particular – category 1 – I have paid close attention to the impact of the BSE and foot-and-mouth crises on the budget. It would be useful to have the precise figures as soon as possible. Nevertheless, the existence of a reserve of EUR 1 billion proposed by the Commission seems acceptable, given the unpredictable nature of these crises. I would state my view once again, however, that we consider a reserve always to be non-compulsory expenditure, as we want to be able to intervene in decisions on its use. We hope to find out, in the Letter of Amendment which is to be presented following first reading, if not before, exactly what the costs arising from BSE and foot-and-mouth disease are. In this context, I would remind you that we are counting on a Commission document on the direction to take with regard to the mid-term review of the last common agricultural policy reform, in which I hope to see consistency between the decisions taken on the crisis, and guidelines for the future. The broad economic guidelines give 15 September as the date for this document to be presented. The Letter of Amendment is another possibility to consider for the presentation of this document. With regard to fisheries and given the much-discussed failure of the Fisheries Agreement with Morocco and the consequent need to restructure our fleets, we must make a careful assessment of how this will be funded. In internal policies (category 3), the current margin is limited and the broad economic guidelines lay down clear priorities in this area, which must be respected. In external action (category 4), it is still difficult to guarantee the stability of the European Union’s action. Reprogrammings have been the rule and we are concerned about the possibility of once again facing reductions in appropriations in budget lines to which we attach great importance. I am referring here to Latin America, human rights and the fight against Aids, for example. In the meantime, in the Balkans, where the European Union has also made clear commitments, we are seeing, as I understand it, a reduction in budgetary resources. Everything indicates that account has not yet been taken of the report by the World Bank, which will give precise details of reconstruction needs. What will happen then? And what about the operational costs of our defence and security policy? In the field of administration (category 5), to what extent are the appropriations proposed sufficient, when added together, to cope with the reform of the Commission, enlargement, the launch of new policies, an increase in the Council’s budget of around 10%, and the proposals of other institutions? It seems quite clear that the resources decided on in Berlin are insufficient. We shall see. In the field of pre-accession, (category 7), I would stress that Parliament came out in favour of reallocating unused appropriations, similarly to what is happening in category 2. Once again, I wish to state my hope that we can maintain a constructive approach to the debate that has now begun. Consensus with the Commission and the Council is both desirable and possible. We must therefore watch out for clouds on the horizon, and I am referring specifically to the fact that the Committee on Budgets today voted on its position on the financial regulation. I would stress that this position complies with the broad economic guidelines. These stated that Parliament will not hesitate to reconsider its position on such matters in its budgetary decisions. It is still possible to guarantee a real assessment of our position on the revision of the financial regulation."@en1

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