Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2002-09-24-Speech-2-149"

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"Mr President, the EU’s administrative budget has for a long time been one of the EU’s major budgetary problems. This year’s work is aimed at trying to find long-term solutions to these problems. At the beginning of the year, we were in a position to foresee a large budget deficit for 2003, indicated by all the estimates. Now that we have reduced this deficit and in actual fact anticipate a slight surplus for next year, we note that, in a long-term perspective, it is, in all likelihood, specifically 2003 that will be the big problem. In accordance with the European Council decision in Berlin in 1999, we have the opportunity of using the ‘flexibility instrument’ and in that way contributing extra funds. In its preliminary draft budget, the Commission proposed this arrangement for category 5. There were obviously reasons for this, not least the fact that time is short and that there is a huge amount to be done. Allow me to emphasise that there are now only two and a half months left before the final decision is made on which countries are to become new Member States. There are six months to go before it will be possible for 147 observers from future Member States to be present here in the European Parliament. Only 15 months remain until the beginning of 2004. This is the year when everything changes and when the EU becomes an organisation quite different from the one it has been until now. It is the year when, hopefully, ten new Member States will have taken their places, the year when we take decisive steps towards the reunification of a Europe that has always been divided into East and West. It is a huge commitment, probably the biggest any of us will experience. It is therefore gratifying to note that by far the majority of the pieces of the budgetary puzzle are beginning to fall into place. Enlargement has the highest priority. The necessary reforms, especially here in Parliament, are in full swing, and it will be possible for them to take place within the set budget framework and within the time we have available to us. While the final countdown has begun and less and less time remains, there nonetheless remains a huge amount to be done, even where the budget prior to 2003 is concerned. Against this background, there was of course a very great deal to be said for the Commission’s proposal for using the ‘flexibility instrument’. Nonetheless, Parliament and the Council chose to go against the Commission’s proposal. As a first step in the right direction, Parliament and the Council have agreed on the broad lines of the administrative budget. That is something which is completely new in the budget procedure but which is an advantage as the work continues. The commitment that Parliament and the Council have made and that other institutions must now make is to facilitate the Commission’s necessary investments and preparations. That must take place with an underlying appreciation and understanding of the fact that enlargement is not something with which institution can cope successfully. Rather, it is a commitment on the part of all of us. Parliament has therefore tried to be especially creative with a view to making room for the required funding. In short, it is a question of trying to get as much as possible done in this year’s budget so as to be able to create as much scope as possible in the 2003 budget when enlargement is just one year ahead of us. It must then be possible for the room for manoeuvre we in that way obtain to form the basis for being able successfully to establish the necessary priorities for 2003. That is what we call frontloading. All – and I emphasise the institutions, including Parliament and the Council, have been encouraged to take an active part in this area. The reactions I have received have been positive so far. I am convinced that we shall succeed and so create the financial room for manoeuvre that the Commission in particular requires if enlargement is to succeed."@en1

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