Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-12-11-Speech-2-111"

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". Mr President, Mr President of the Council, Madam Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, with the constructive attitude of both branches of the budgetary authority, the European Parliament and the European Council, and with the support of the Commission, it has been possible, throughout the different phases of the complex budgetary process, to find an answer to a series of new challenges, ensure that previous commitments are fulfilled and deal with most of the priorities defined for 2002. In the light of a markedly balanced end result, it is only fair to single out the work of the members of the Budgetary Commission, the vital contribution of the draftsmen of the opinions of other committees, the responsible involvement of the political groups, the negotiating skills of the Belgian Presidency demonstrated by Minister Vande Lanotte, whom I congratulate, the competence of the Commission departments, which I hereby single out in the person of the Director-General for the Budget, Mr Mangasson, the work of the entire College of Commissioners and the particular endeavours of the Commissioner for the Budget, Mrs Schreyer, whom I would also like to congratulate. I would also like to make a special personal reference to the invaluable support and contribution of the secretariat of the Budgetary Commission for the excellent results they achieved. They went far beyond the call of duty. In a rapid assessment of the results achieved, we should mention the establishment of better conditions for continuing to improve the performance of the budget and make it more effective. The joint declarations issued by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission are very important. For the first time, the Council accepted amendments adopted at first reading by Parliament within the framework of the common agricultural policy, thereby opening up promising prospects for cooperation. It was also possible to meet new needs deriving from the failure to sign the fisheries agreement with Morocco and the impact of enlargement through the financing of a restructuring programme for the Portuguese and Spanish fishing fleets, and specific support for certain border regions. Fourthly, financing was agreed for three new agencies with competence in the area of maritime safety, air safety and food quality. There is also an initial response to new challenges relating to the situation following the attacks of September 11, in particular in the areas of policing, justice and external action; here again special reference should be made to the financing of humanitarian and reconstruction actions in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. I would further stress the strengthening of the ability to act in terms of and the special importance given to the response to the tragic situation of the refugees. Support for the Commission reforms and progress in preparing for enlargement are also envisaged. Compliance with commitments entered into previously, whether in the context of Agenda 2000 with regard to the common agricultural policy and the Structural Funds, or with regard to programmes arising from codecision or even concerning the policy on external action, are also matters which should be addressed. Of course, it is only normal that new challenges are appearing for the future. I would single out the following: the endowments needed for expenses of Headings III – Internal Policies, IV – External Policies and V – Administrative Expenses are subject to enormous pressure and the fact that the situation is under control for the time being should not delude us. The problems will arise again in the next few years and it will become increasingly difficult to find solutions. In this context, I would mention with regret the rigidity of the budgetary structure deriving from the Financial Perspective in force, which means that in some categories there are substantial balances and in others the situation is becoming increasingly complicated. It is incomprehensible that with the current difficulties in various sectors, such as external action, there was a balance of EUR 11 billion outstanding in the year 2000, which is around 14% of the total expenditure. We must have the courage to adopt in good time the solutions that in this case are so obvious. At the same time, it must be stated again that the division of budgetary expenses into compulsory and non-compulsory is a completely outdated concept and, in the light of the most elementary principles of democracy, it is unacceptable for the effective competence of Parliament to be limited to non-compulsory expenses (around half of the budget) and it is incomprehensible that it has no competence as regards the revenue system. The 2002 budget is ready and I believe it merits your approval. As for the tasks for the future and the new role of the European Parliament in the budgetary process, we will be here to deal with them. Once again, thank you all very much."@en1

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