Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-10-23-Speech-2-141"

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". Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, guided by the ‘guidelines for the 2002 budgetary process’, approved on 3 April, Parliament has attached particular importance to improving the efficiency of the European institutions, with particular emphasis, in this field, on the Commission reform that is currently underway and on the quality of the budget’s implementation. We also have great expectations of the report to be drafted by the Secretaries-General of the institutions on the multiannual study of administrative spending on preparations for enlargement. We even feel that, as a natural consequence of this work at a technical level, it could then be followed up at political level, with cooperation between the two branches of the budgetary authority. At this level, therefore, we will be able to draw political conclusions from information that we obtain technically, which is already being done. Continuing with a different type of issue, but which is also pending, in the case of the Commission’s proposal, we are waiting for the drafting, in the very near future, of the proposal to mobilise the flexibility instrument that will ensure the means necessary for the conversion of the fishing fleets that were dependent on the old Fisheries Agreement with Morocco. This flexibility instrument is a mechanism provided for in the Institutional Agreement. It has been used year after year and we are waiting to see the corresponding proposal for the year 2002. In terms of sectoral objectives, I should like to highlight a few to which we attach particular importance, such as that of improving the European Union’s competitiveness, to which the priority of more and better employment has been linked. It is not sufficient for declarations to be made at European Councils and summits. What we need is for these declarations then to be put into practice. More and better employment also means more and better support, more and better support mechanisms for small and medium-sized businesses, progress on the learning initiative, which we would very much like to see have a corresponding legal basis and also the consolidation of common policies in the field of asylum and immigration. It is also worth making special mention here of the intention to support the competitiveness of Member States’ border regions in the context of the forthcoming enlargement, as well as extending the benefits of the Leader programme to cover the future Member States. All of these aspects are considered, in our guidelines, in the proposals for amendments that we have tabled on the budgetary proposals, and in the comments that we have included on the budgetary proposals. Of course, we shall also continue to fight to improve the level of payments. I know that this is something that the Member States often attempt to avoid, but the fact is that, if we want to see more effective European institutions, if, furthermore, we want their actions to have greater credibility, and if we want to see their results being more successful, we must have the necessary means to make payments. I would also remind you that under the terms of the Interinstitutional Agreement, in terms of the financial perspective, in 2002, the level of payments should stand at 1.08% of the gross domestic product of Member States and the Council’s proposals fall considerably short of this figure. I shall conclude by expressing my complete willingness, in the period between this first reading of the budget for 2002 and the vote on it in December, to work together with the Council and the Commission in a systematic process to reach the most appropriate allocation of available resources and to find the appropriate responses to the challenges we are currently facing. Hopefully, after the vote that will be held this coming Thursday, the European Parliament’s proposals will lie clearly on the table. We would also like to see that our priorities are considered in all the discussions that take place between now and December and that they take account of what I have just said, which is that the position of the European Parliament and that of the Council must both be respected, so that, ultimately, it will be possible to use the best from each proposal. What we cannot, of course, accept now is something that we have never accepted in the past: a dialogue of the deaf, in which some people state their wishes and other people accept what some people say they wanted. In this specific case, and to ensure that real negotiation takes place, there must be respect for the positions of all parties involved, attention must be paid to everyone’s priorities and that a close look is really given to everyone’s priorities. Only by adopting this approach will the discharge of the budgetary process be worthwhile. Only through this approach will we ultimately have any guarantee of success and only in this way can we have any hope that the budget will receive a favourable vote in December and be approved. We do have strongly-held positions but we are also willing to negotiate and what we want is an in-depth examination of the proposals of all sides so that the final outcome is a balanced one. In this context, we must once again state our continuing political support for the reform of the Commission and mechanisms are being put in place to effectively monitor it, in an attempt to avoid both the delays that we have seen and those concerning staff regulations, in which we want to see the position opportunely adopted in the European Parliament resolution respected. These are the mechanisms of the long-awaited reform, which must be implemented by all the European institutions: an increase in the size of the external delegations, and also better coordination between the legislative and budgetary procedures, amongst others. These are well-known objectives and we shall continue to work to achieve them. At the same time, and with a view to improving the monitoring of the budget’s implementation, we expect the Commission to produce a definition of clear objectives for implementation and a timetable for this, and we will see how the timetable is being respected in the course of the year by means of sources of information that are now being made available. It is not possible to effectively assess the implementation of a budget if we do not have both clearly defined objectives and the means of finding out whether these objectives are being met. It is also widely known that the European Parliament attaches clear priority to producing a more detailed study of the budget’s implementation. We feel it is important to be able to forecast the budget for the following year. Indeed, the budget is, by definition, a forecast. Equally important, however, as establishing the forecast for the following year is being able to see how this forecast is being put into practice and, in cases where this is not being done, to know the reasons why. This will also contribute to making good delays in payments that have already been identified and to being able to pay out new commitments more rapidly. We want to eliminate outstanding payments as far as possible and also to ensure that new payments outstanding, or new RAL, to use the commonly accepted term in this field, do not occur. Increased operational spending will also be promoted, with corresponding reductions in administrative spending. This is also related, as you all know, to a set of horizontal amendments, in other words, amendments that cover the whole budget proposed by the Committee on Budgets, and which are designed to provide an real reduction in the RAL, greater speed in making payments and also increased operational spending rather than administrative spending. Along the same lines, we state once again our intention to only decide on the basis of the most complete information and, consequently, we hope to have the following information supplied by the Commission soon: on the one hand, and most importantly, the study examining the impact of the various measures that have already been adopted in the field of agriculture under the reforms laid down in Agenda 2000, as well as their budgetary consequences and also those of the BSE and foot-and-mouth crises, in addition to the prospects for changes to the agricultural budget. The European Parliament cannot be a budgetary authority in name only. In order to reach a decision on a given budget line and, even more, on a given category of the budget, we need full and up-to-date information. It is clear that, at the moment, with regard to the last reform of the common agricultural policy and the impact of the foot-and-mouth and BSE crises, we need more information. This is why we have been asking for information since at least March of this year, so that we can make an informed decision, both on the 2002 budget and on the Letter of Amendment. As important as our concern to have information, we hope that new measures will be identified, which will provide a response to the situation arising from the terrorist attacks of 11 September, specifically concerning Europol and Eurojust in the fields of justice and home affairs. We would also like to see measures in the field of external action, on increasing humanitarian aid and a diversification of development cooperation, without, of course, undermining previously given commitments. I think that we all accept that the situation arising from 11 September has changed many aspects of world policy and therefore, since the budget acts as a mirror for this policy and reflects this policy, there are bound to be budgetary consequences for the new situation. The consequences of this new situation are being felt in 2001 and will be in 2002 and in the future. We see these consequences chiefly affecting refugees, and the tragic problem they create, but they also affect concerted action in terms of the European Union’s external policy. We do not want to be systematically faced with . We can now, therefore, certainly forecast changes in these situations and these new situations must be reflected in the budget. The budget must accommodate them although they must not endanger other commitments already given by the European Union. We have the greatest respect for the 1999 provisions on the financial perspective but we also have great respect for social and political dynamics and where political dynamics are concerned, we cannot fail to draw the necessary conclusions. We have also stated on various occasions that we will not accept new needs and new challenges being met to the detriment of longer-standing needs which are still as topical as they ever were."@en1

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