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". – Mr President, since we are congratulating ourselves – everyone has made very complimentary speeches about the role of the Committee on Budgets – I am reminded of a story once told to me by Vice-President Schmid. A former chairman of the Committee on Budgets and a former general rapporteur went on a skiing holiday. Whilst they were out skiing they had an accident: they fell down a deep ravine. They were stuck and could not get out. Twenty-four hours later, people realised they were missing and they sent out a search party. When the search party reached the ravine, it looked down and saw these two figures. They shouted down: ‘Are you from the Budgets Committee?’ They replied: ‘Yes, we are!’ They shouted back: ‘We are from the Red Cross.’ The reply came: ‘We have no money’. That is the image that most people have of the Committee on Budgets. However, with this budget we have been extremely kind to virtually everybody who has come along. Anyone who has been involved in this procedure knows about the faxes, e-mails, telephone calls and the knocks on the door as attempts are made to lobby for anything that can be gained from this budget. However, on this occasion the rapporteurs have worked extremely well to ensure that the priorities of the committees, the different political groups and those with outside interests who have lobbied effectively are taken on board. We have a budget which reflects considerable good will on the part of this Parliament. In fact, there is so much good will that, as I said in committee, we have too much money in the budget, especially in some areas in category 4 where the money will not be spent. However, it is there, and it has been achieved through the good work of the rapporteurs and the committee and through our joint efforts with the Council and the Commission. It must be said that there have been a good deal of firsts in this budgetary process, not least because of the attitude of the Danish Presidency. We have all congratulated them, and they have worked exceptionally hard to ensure that we finally have a budget of which we can all be proud. There is normally considerable lobbying at this final stage, but not on this occasion. The very few instances of lobbying we have encountered concern one or two lines relating to category 4. Our negotiations in the conciliation with the Council and the Commission have actually proved fruitful. In category 4, every single amendment requested by the committees has been delivered, except on those lines concerned with ECHO – we are convinced that the money can be found – and the Global Health Fund. We do not have the EUR 80 million that was requested, but we have EUR 42 million from the general budget and a guarantee that the European Union will have a seat on the board of the Global Health Fund. From that point of view, it is quite good. However, the one message that needs to be conveyed, amidst all these congratulations, is how the money will be utilised throughout next year, because our weakness in this Parliament is that we do not monitor how the money is being spent. Mr Ferber urged the Commission and the Council to ensure that the money is well spent. It is our job as well, and the committees in this Parliament have to ensure that they are monitoring month in and month out. The last thing we want is a 15% return to the Member States at the end of the day, which is what happened this year when we gave back EUR 15 billion. The Member States are happy about that, but it is not good budgetary practice."@en1

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