Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2002-04-24-Speech-3-101"

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". – Mr President, looking around we could have met in the bar. It would have been a lot more cosy than this. It is nice to see those of you who are here. Whilst this appears on the agenda as the Wynn report, it has only just become the Wynn report. It was the Costa Neves report. Carlos Costa Neves, who was the budget rapporteur for 2002, has now moved on to the Portuguese Government, and I for one was sorry to see him leave. He has done a sterling job and I want to put on record my thanks for the work that he has done on the 2002 Budget. I understand that the PPE-DE group have now nominated Mr Podestà as the new rapporteur. So I am the in-between bit. Hence you have the Wynn report on Supplementary and Amending Budget No 2. The Council and one or two Members are concerned about the amendments that we have tabled. The Member States, quite rightly, want the money back that was not spent last year. This amounts to around EUR 10 billion, a significant amount of money. It is not the total amount, however, because one amount went back last year, and there is probably still another one or two billion which will come forward in Supplementary and Amending Budget No 3. We have a choice of whether to give the money back to the Member States or whether we try to put it to use in other areas. One thing that has been made clear to us is that in next year's budget there could be shortfalls, especially in the Structural Funds, where the Category 2 expenditure on payments may well have to be exceeded. Therefore, one of the reasons for our amendments is to alleviate that problem next year by making the monies available this year. Consequently, the Member States will not receive ten billion back, but something in the region of EUR 5.5 billion. The Council and certain Member States have queried the legality of the amendment and our right to do this. The simple answer is yes, we do have this right. We have done similar things since 1994, which have never been challenged by the Council, because it recognises that, at the end of the day, it is the Treaty that counts, and the Treaty gives Parliament the final say on the budget when the President signs the budget. Consequently, what we consider a routine operation in amending this SAB has given one or two of our friends in the Council some ideas about challenging it from a legal point of view. I think they would be unwise to do that. The second problem seems to be that we will delay the new system of own resources by not voting the SAB through in its entirety tomorrow. Well, yes, we will, but that is not our fault. The Commission, out of the goodness of its heart, was trying to do the Council a favour by putting these changes into this SAB. We want to see them too, but quite frankly, the sooner we get the SAB voted at our second reading, on the assumption that the Council does not agree with our first reading, then the changes will come about. A third criticism from the Council is that there is no chance whatsoever of spending the money this year. If that is the case, we could do something about it later on. As I said SAB 3 is coming. We have asked the Commission for information on how the money can be spent, whether it can be spent in time or whether all of it can be spent. If the Commission comments support the Council's position, then of course we will have to re-consider. If we do not do it under SAB 2, then we could certainly do it under SAB 3. For those trying to read between the lines, I hope that message is pretty clear, because this is not just about this particular SAB. There are other consequences. If I use the words 'Financial Regulation' then the penny may drop with some people and they may begin to understand what I am talking about when I keep mentioning SAB 3. Another aspect here is that some Member States, including my own, will say that there will be a hole in their own budgets. They are right. The easiest way to fill that hole is to get this business sorted out as quickly as possible. This is linked, however, not only to SAB 2 or SAB 3, but also to the Financial Regulation. I would hope that with the good cooperation of all three institutions this issue can be put to rest in the not too distant future, to make the Council happy, to make ourselves happy and to make sure that the Commission can get on with doing the job that it wants to do."@en1

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