Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2002-10-22-Speech-2-117"

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"Mr President, after 15 minutes from Mr Färm and 10 minutes from Mr Stenmarck and all the other contributions, there is not much left to say. I was giving evidence recently to one of the subcommittees of the Convention, chaired by Mr Amato, on simplification. I made the point that the language of the budget is probably the twelfth language in this institution. Listening to this debate, where the words 'ramassage' and 'frontloading' are being used so often, it seems as though they have become part of the everyday lexicon of our budget language. I also said that we need only one reading of the budget, and that would simplify the whole process. Had that system applied today, I am sure we would not have voted for the budget that we now have. I say that because a lot of people are concerned about the way in which this budget will be voted on Thursday. I do not just mean the Commission and the Council, but colleagues from a variety of parliamentary committees. I want to make one point absolutely clear to anyone who shares these worries: this is, after all, a first reading to show we have political priorities and to put some pressure on the Council, it is not the end of the story. These concerns have arisen because of what the committee adopted. We exceeded the ceilings in three categories – in category 1b we will have to see how Parliament votes on Thursday. On category 2, we are duty-bound to find a solution with the Council. On category 4, we also need to find a solution together with the Council. That is why the decisions have been taken in category 4, to try to ensure that there will be real dialogue with the Council to solve some of the political problems in that area. As others have said, the ceiling on category 4 has been a problem ever since we concluded the interinstitutional agreement. Every year since then we have had to use the flexibility instrument. Some may agree with Mr Seppänen that the agreement is stupid. I am one of those who voted for it. That might make me stupid, but the reality is that this Parliament agreed it, and we have to live with it and within its restrictions. I hope that when it comes to the next interinstitutional agreement we will have learnt lessons from this one, especially in category 4. However, this time the needs in category 4 – especially in the areas of Afghanistan and the Global Health Fund – have to be sorted out. On the Global Health Fund, there are certainly big differences of opinion between the Commission, the Council and ourselves. To make it worse, at least one Member State is asking us to find the extra EUR 65 million, which complicates matters when we know what the Council's position is already. When I say it has to be sorted out, I mean we have to find a real solution with the Council, not going into a conciliation or trialogues and playing the usual games. We have serious problems in these areas and we need a real sense of cooperation. It must be said that we have had a good working relationship with the Danish presidency. We should not condemn the Danish presidency for not being here. They have apologised to me and explained that they have other commitments. The fact that the President-in-Office sat for 4 ½ hours at our last meeting showed his commitment. They have been quite good in the way they have worked with Parliament. They have respected Parliament and Parliament's will. The Danish presidency has been good to work with. As Mrs Buitenweg said, the presidency has also been good today, even in the videoconference on the European Solidarity Fund. But let us hope that those good relationships can continue as we go into the next conciliation, prior to the second reading by the Council. I also made the point at the Convention that, in contrast to the American War of Independence, where the cry was 'no taxation without representation', we in this Parliament have the luxury of having representation without taxation. That makes the Council often think that we are profligate with taxpayers' money. The message we need to give to the Council is that the budgets we vote here are serious and prudent, but they have political priorities. I hope that, in December, we will have achieved some of those political priorities."@en1

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