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Dinsdag 13 september 2016 - Straatsburg Herziene uitgave

15. Presentatie van het standpunt van de Raad inzake het ontwerp van algemene begroting voor het begrotingsjaar 2017 (debat)
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  Die Präsidentin. – Als nächster Punkt der Tagesordnung folgt die Aussprache über die Erklärung des Rates zur Erläuterung des Standpunkts des Rates zum Entwurf des Gesamthaushaltsplans für das Haushaltsjahr 2017 (2016/2768(RSP)).

Ich weise die Mitglieder darauf hin, dass es bei dieser Aussprache kein Catch-the-eye-Verfahren gibt und dass keine blauen Karten angenommen werden.

Jetzt sage ich Frau Kommissarin Thyssen Auf Wiedersehen, und Frau Kommissions-Vizepräsidentin Georgieva ist noch nicht hier. Aber der erste auf der Rednerliste ist im Namen des Rates Herr Minister Vazil Hudák. Das heißt, ich gebe Ihnen zuerst das Wort.


  Vazil Hudák, President-in-Office of the Council. – Madam President, I would like to wish everybody good evening. It has been a long day for all of us but I believe that those who have actually stayed here – and I see Madam Commissioner joining us – and had the courage and stamina to stay here into the late evening are the true friends of the budget. I have the honour of presenting to you the Council’s position on the draft budget of the European Union for the year 2017, which was adopted yesterday by the Council.

I would like to begin by stating clearly that the main thrust of the Council’s position is the prioritisation of expenditure. This means that we wish to finance adequately investments to spur growth and jobs, for example through the European Fund for Strategic Investments, and to provide sufficient funding to tackle the still ongoing migration crisis and the related external policies.

At the same time, it is the Council’s express wish to create sufficient margins to enable us to cope with unforeseen situations that we will surely have to face into 2017. In our view, the annual budget is an expression of our solidarity, the solidarity which goes internally amongst the Member States, and the citizens as well as externally towards third countries, which is a common goal that we all share. Therefore, the EU budget should concentrate on the main objectives of the EU and on benefiting our citizens.

Let me now explain to you how the Council looked at priorities and the guiding principles. These priorities, which were reflected in the thinking by the Member States and the Council, translate into concrete guiding principles that were applied when adopting the Council’s position on the draft budget for 2017. First, tackling the refugee crisis is a key priority, and hence so is the financing for migration and related external policies. Therefore, heading 3 – Security and citizenship, which funds policies on tackling the migration and refugee crisis, benefits from a significant increase of 4.9% in commitments and 24.4% in payment appropriations compared to 2016. The Council has accepted in full all appropriations destined for the programmes and agencies dealing with the crisis, including the use of the flexibility instrument for an amount of EUR 530 million and the contingency margin for an amount of EUR 1.14 billion. In total, the Council has agreed an amount of EUR 3 billion, which goes mainly to the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, to the Internal Security Fund, to emergency assistance and to the related agencies such as Frontex, EASO and Europol.

In heading 4 – Global Europe, the Council undertook a thorough analysis in order to identify space for creating the necessary margin since the Commission’s proposal for 2017 has completely exhausted the margin for commitments. The overall increase in commitments remains at 1.74%, compared to 2016. Programmes and instruments related to the migration crisis and the facility for refugees in Turkey were not affected by reductions. So you can see that the Council stands fully behind the European Agenda on Migration, as was agreed between us in 2015.

Second, a priority and concern for all of us is the creation of jobs and growth. Subheading 1A – Competitiveness for growth and jobs, therefore increases overall by almost 9% in both commitments and payment appropriations compared to 2016. The Council protects and supports the budget for instruments that spur growth and thereby create jobs, namely such instruments as EFSI, COSME, Erasmus+ and others. Subheading 1A, however, has also contributed to the general savings effort concerning some budget lines where the Council considers, following a detailed technical analysis, that the Commission has overestimated the real needs.

Concerning Subheading 1B – Economic, social and territorial cohesion, which is another core policy of the European Union for the creation of growth and jobs, the Council proposes limited reductions of payment appropriations on new programmes of EUR 199 million. However, the Council has not reduced appropriations dedicated to the previous programming period, 2007—2013, and to the treatment of the backlog of unpaid bills. That deadlock should be fully resolved by the end of this year in accordance with the payment plan.

Before concluding, let me briefly address the issue of Heading 5 –Administration. As you all know – and I think Parliament has been part of this deal – 2017 is the last year for institutions to achieve the goal of reducing their statutory staff by 5%. Frankly, the Council and the Member States are very concerned to note that not all institutions will achieve that goal. Therefore the Council has made it very clear in a statement that it expects that all efforts will be deployed to avoid any additional delays in implementing this jointly-agreed reduction target.

In conclusion, as you can see, in an effort to find the right balance between, on the one hand, a sustainable budget in times of budgetary constraints throughout Europe and, on the other hand, financing essential political priorities, the Council has identified areas where savings are reasonable and necessary. In those areas that cannot be qualified as top political priorities in the current circumstances, reductions in the proposal of the Commission have been made in a careful fashion in order not to harm programmes that perform well and are coming up to speed. In doing so we have followed the Council’s budget guidelines for 2017.

Let me express my hope and confidence that we will find a common path to securing a reasonable and sustainable budget that will bring maximum benefits for all our fellow citizens. Above all, I hope that our debate on this important but technical matter will pave the way to a successful compromise based on mutual respect and understanding and shared goals and concerns.


  Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, as Mr Hudák has just said, those who are most committed to the European budget are in this Chamber and I see Mr Arthuis among them.

On the discussion of the Council reading on the Commission’s proposal, I want to start from where we are clearly in alignment. There is a commonality of purpose which is to make sure that our budget for 2017 is aligned with our two top priorities: investment in jobs and growth and dealing with migration, refugees and security. We are clearly more in alignment on one of these priorities – migration, refugees and security – on which the Commission proposal has been fully endorsed in the reading of Council. However, there are some discrepancies in views and I want to concentrate on the logic behind what the Commission has proposed and to defend our proposal.

Regarding investment in jobs and growth, we have dedicated nearly half – 47.4% – of the budget to that, which includes an increase vis-à-vis 2016 of 7%. We have done that consciously, taking into account the status of our economies and we have looked very carefully into each and every budget line. For that reason, we were quite underwhelmed by the reading of the Council on Heading 1A, where, on competitiveness, jobs and growth, there are proposed cuts of EUR 400 million. This means 52% of the cuts that Council is proposing falling on an area that I do not think any one of us can disagree is important for Europe.

I would point to some of these cuts, for example in research, at a time when we need to stimulate innovation and make sure that European researchers are coming close to the real economy. We were surprised to see that there are proposed cuts for some large—scale projects for which there is very high demand, like transport and energy, Galileo and Copernicus. Some of these cuts are just very bad use of the knife, in terms of the consequences of the costs we would then incur. If, in Galileo, you build the satellite but you do not shoot it up, you have to store it and pay for its storage.

Similarly, I would express a bit of concern that there is some mechanical cutting when it comes to some of the Heading 3 small programmes like health, SMEs and dialogue with citizens, or cuts in global Europe – EUR 62 million in cuts – when we know that, if anything, we have to do more to address the root causes of poverty, and thus of wars, refugees and migration.

I would say, from the bottom of my heart, that I have sympathy for the Council in terms of keeping us on the straight and narrow when it comes to administrative cost. We are very mindful that every day we have to look into what we spent on administration, with an eye to economising: and we do that. I can tell you that – line by line – we are cutting every budget line that is not driven upwards by natural forces. But to demand from us that we go beyond the 5% staff cut, by introducing an additional reduction, I do not find very wise because we are committed to the 5% cut: we are executing the 5% cut while undertaking more responsibilities, and we motivate our staff by telling them we are cutting as much as we have promised – no less, but also no more.

On payment appropriations, there is a very important point for the Council to take into account, namely that in 2016, unfortunately, some of the new programmes are underperforming and therefore the absorption rate in payments is lower than projected. This on its own is a problem, but it also creates a problem for 2017, when we anticipate that some of these non-materialising payments could come knocking on the door. Therefore we would argue very strongly for the Council to revisit this position. We are not proposing a proportionate increase in 2017 equal to the underspending in 2016. We are sticking to where we are, but it would be unwise to attempt a further reduction.

Finally, I want once again to make a clear statement on our commitment to monitor implementation. We are grateful to Parliament and to the Council for your engagement with us to make sure that we constantly improve our capacity to project what is necessary and to correct our course so we can use money in the wisest possible manner. We are keen to continue to work with Council, and of course with Parliament, so that the 2017 budget becomes a reality on time. If we remember last year’s experience, we actually got it five days before the deadline: so why not repeat that this year?


  Jens Geier, Berichterstatter. – Frau Präsidentin, Frau Vizepräsidentin Georgieva, Herr Minister Hudák! Die EU muss liefern, höre ich, wenn über die Krise der EU in diesen Tagen diskutiert wird. Wir müssen groß sein bei den Aufgaben und ihren Lösungen. Allerdings müssen wir dann die Lösung dieser Aufgaben auch finanzieren können, und dabei begibt der Rat sich in eine widersprüchliche Situation. Es gibt zwar die gemeinsamen Schwerpunkte, die wir schon gehört haben: die Bewältigung der Migrationskrise, etwa mit den außenpolitischen Mitteln in der Kategorie 4, mehr Mittel für Wachstum und Beschäftigung – dafür gibt es die Kategorie 1A. Aber das sind genau die Kategorien, in denen der Rat am stärksten eingreift.

Der Rat kürzt den Vorschlag der Kommission in der Forschungspolitik bei Horizont 2020 und in der Verkehrspolitik – und damit bei zwei Programmen, denen bereits Geld entzogen worden ist, als es um die Garantiesumme für den Europäischen Fonds für strategische Investitionen ging, um hier die Garantiezahlung zusammenzubekommen. Es gibt Einschnitte, die der Rat in der sozialen Zusammenarbeit vorschlägt, also dem Geld für die europäischen Gewerkschaften, oder bei den Mikrokrediten, einem bewährten sozialpolitischen Instrument. Das kann ein Sozialdemokrat wie ich nur als Provokation verstehen.

In der Kategorie 1B kürzt der Rat massiv die grenzüberschreitende Zusammenarbeit, ein Programm mit klarem europäischem Mehrwert. Denn die Nationalstaaten haben keine Förderinstrumente, die die Menschen, die an den Grenzen der Mitgliedstaaten leben, dabei unterstützen, zum Beispiel wirtschaftliche Potenziale grenzüberschreitend mit ihren Nachbarn zu heben.

In der Kategorie 4 bedeutet das, was der Rat vorschlägt, im Ergebnis, dass wir unter das Niveau des Haushalts von 2016 sinken. Mir ist keine außenpolitische Krise bekannt, die sich in den letzten Monaten gelöst hätte, also sehe ich eigentlich auch keinen politischen Grund dafür, dass wir hier weniger investieren müssten, und das, obwohl wichtige Instrumente in der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit bereits viel Geld an die Fazilität für die Flüchtlinge in der Türkei abgeben mussten. Nicht nur hier: Der Rat schwächt mit seinem Haushaltsvorschlag Instrumente zur Krisenbewältigung, die die EU dringend braucht und die der Rat selbst fordert. Da stellt sich doch die Frage: Warum?

Die einzige Erklärung, die ich finde: Es ist ein Ritual. Es geht um das Streichen um des Streichens willen. Und das wird deutlich, wenn man sich vor Augen führt, dass es die Nettozahler—Staaten waren, die diese Streichung durchgesetzt haben. Aber wenn sich die Einschnitte bei den Zahlungen und den Verpflichtungen in Höhe von rund 0,8 Prozent des Haushalts bewegen, dann kann man das Argument, Herr Minister, es ginge um Margen für Unvorhergesehenes, nicht wirklich ernst nehmen. Aber signifikante Einsparungen für die Nettozahler bedeutet es sicherlich auch nicht. Es ist ein Ritual. Es ist das Gegenteil von der Forderung, dass die EU Beiträge zur Lösung der großen Probleme leisten soll, und ich bitte Sie, dieses Ritual zu beenden.




  Indrek Tarand, rapporteur. – Mr President, my thanks to the Slovak Presidency, which communicated its decisions. As usual, our Treaties and Rules of Procedure guide us with tremendous force through the unknown seas of the Bermuda Triangle, where both co-legislators and honest brokers can get lost. The end of the story seems to be that no one will be happy but there is no one to be blamed, or actually the name of the game is normally to blame another institution. However, this year we are trying to chart a different course together with my dear colleague and main rapporteur, Mr Geier. We will not blame anybody but ourselves, and that is taking a whole lot of responsibility, perhaps even a bit too much.

About administrative costs, I must admit, under the circumstances prescribed by the Treaties and numerous rules and practices, it is quite a stressful situation to be responsible for something you cannot actually really change or can change only cosmetically. Whatever direction you try to take, there are obstacles called ‘interinstitutional agreement’, ‘Staff Regulations’, ‘establishment plan’ etc., but the ultimate barrier is the so-called ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. I have been wondering who exactly those gentlemen were because it would be lovely to meet them and discuss whether their agreement is still up to date, but those thoughts are a matter for another discussion.

A few comments now on the Council position on other sections. As I pointed out at the first trilogue, I am thoroughly unable to find common sense or reason in the Council’s wish to cut the appropriations for the European Court of Justice and also for the Data Protection Supervisor. Please allow me to illustrate it briefly. As far as I understand, the evidence shows that the European Court of Justice did ask for an increase of 12 judges to cope with its growing workload, yet it was given 28 by the Council, most likely because the Council was unable to tame the atavist instincts of the Member States, hence each State was given an additional judge regardless of whether this was necessary. In so doing, the Council pushed up so-called organisational costs in the budget but now, with its other hand, it wants to reduce the substantial side of the Court’s budget, thereby hampering its ability to deal with its principal tasks. That is why as a rapporteur I intend to restore the original estimated lines promptly.

Data protection is a hotly debated topic. Indeed, it is full of controversy and paradoxes. We all have two hands here, and quite frequently we use one of them to vote for more data protection and against American and other possible surveillance of our data. Having done that, quite a number of us voluntarily put an activity tracker on the other hand, sending, via our apps and internet use, all sorts of data to the American private companies, such as how many steps do we make per day or what we had for lunch, or perhaps even what our heartbeat is while having sex. We can only hope that those companies deal carefully with our data. So once we have decided to have a small agency to supervise European data protection, it is really unwise to cut the financial resources it has to do that.

To conclude, I would like to thank the partners in the budgetary process. The process has enabled me to meet extremely professional officials, wonderful and creative colleagues in various institutions whose experience and goodwill and devotion to Europe has brought us here. I am sure we will have a budget in 2017.


  Jean Arthuis, président de la commission des budgets. – Monsieur le Président, ce débat tardif sur le projet de budget de 2017, conséquence du calendrier choisi par la Grande-Bretagne pour tenir son référendum sur le Brexit, intervient à la veille de deux événements attendus. D'abord le discours du président de la Commission sur l'état de l'Union et dans la foulée, la présentation du projet de révision à mi-parcours du cadre financier pluriannuel 2014-2020.

Mes chers collègues, le rêve nous est encore permis. Rêve que le budget 2017 ne soit plus une simple tranche annuelle du cadre financier. Notre hémiplégie budgétaire nous interdit de délibérer sur les recettes. Quant à notre champ de travail, les dépenses, 1 % du PIB européen, sont réparties à raison de 80 % au profit des États membres. Il ne reste donc que 20 % seulement pour des actions supranationales, c'est-à-dire l'essence du budget européen. Mais le tiers de ces 20 % est déjà préempté pour financer les institutions – la Commission, le Parlement, le Conseil, la Cour de justice, la Cour des comptes, les agences. Comment dans ces conditions, répondre aux situations de crise et préparer l'avenir?

Oui, chers collègues, moins de 14 % de notre budget est alloué aux programmes de recherche Horizon 2020, pour Erasmus, pour le programme d'interconnexion des infrastructures en Europe, pour contrôler nos frontières extérieures, accueillir dignement les réfugiés, lutter contre le terrorisme, contre le chômage, notamment celui des jeunes, réguler les productions agricoles, lutter contre les paradis fiscaux et les fraudes de tous ordres, assumer nos obligations humanitaires dans les régions dévastées par les guerres, tarir les sources de migration économique par une politique ambitieuse d'aide au développement, notamment en Afrique.

Miroir du passé, le cadre financier est anachronique, privé de marge significative de flexibilité. C'est le degré zéro de la politique. La situation est à ce point misérable que la Commission multiplie les satellites budgétaires – EFSI, trust funds, facilité budgétaire pour la Turquie –, véritables galaxies échappant au contrôle parlementaire. Notre budget donne un spectacle d'impuissance, budget illisible, budget incompréhensible par les citoyens, illustration de l'incapacité de l'Union européenne à parler aux Européens.

Rêve que la révision à mi-parcours du cadre financier pluriannuel sorte notre budget du simulacre où il a glissé au fil des années.

Soyons vigilants sur les crédits mis à la disposition des États membres et les fonds de cohésion par nature sanctuarisés. Les prévisions de paiements sont revues à la baisse car les engagements tardent à être décidés. Pourquoi? Sans doute parce que les nouveaux programmes relevant de la cohésion et nos règlements sont devenus à ce point complexes qu'ils rebutent les investisseurs publics et les acteurs locaux. C'est dire l'urgence d'une révision drastique de notre règlement financier. Peut-être bien aussi parce que, pour importantes qu'elles soient, les aides européennes ne couvrent qu'une partie des dépenses, obligeant les opérateurs à s'endetter comme si l'Europe devenait activatrice de dépenses et de dettes publiques.

En conclusion, à ce stade de la procédure budgétaire, nous restons confiants. Nous sommes impatients de concevoir et de voter des budgets donnant à l'Union les moyens de manifester sa puissance, des budgets parlant aux Européens, des budgets démontrant à l'opinion publique l'effectivité de la valeur ajoutée de l'Union européenne.


  Vazil Hudák, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, first of all I would like to thank all those who spoke during this discussion. I think the discussion showed that we may have some different views but in general we are united by the fact that we want to have a workable budget, a good budget for European citizens.

One of the issues or challenges we have is that we have too many priorities and too little money, and the question is how to use the money in the best possible way. I remember long and painful discussions at the national level in my country, in my government, where we had to go through very painful decisions on where to cut, where to take away and how to adjust the budget. Unfortunately there are also similar situations at the European level. I can assure the Members, and Mr Geier, that the cuts which were made by the Council were not ritual, were not easy, were not technical, and followed many discussions among the Member States and a lot of deliberation.

I would also like to put those numbers which came out of the Council into some perspective by comparing both the proposal from the Commission and numbers from 2016. This comparison shows that in the proposal from the Council we are actually talking about increasing commitments by 0.9% in comparison to 2016. There is a drop in payments of 7%, which we believe is justified because of the low absorption of the EU funds in some of the categories.

So again the change is not major and it reflects the views of the Member States, including the situation in their own countries. If I may, just very briefly, address some of the important points which were made during the discussion. The Council fully agrees that the priority of competitiveness, of jobs, of economic growth, is a key issue for Europe. Europe can survive in the global economy only as a competitive economy. The cuts made to sub-heading 1A were focused on areas in which some investments may be postponed because 2017 may be too soon for them. We also made sure that the Council has not proposed any reductions to the programmes that are best placed to achieve the political goal of economic growth, such as EFSI, core parts of the Horizon 2020, COSME, Erasmus+ etc. So we tried to preserve those core elements of the budget which we believe are the main drivers of economic growth.

In response to the points made by Mr Tarand on the European Court of Justice, this is an issue where we also looked very carefully at the budget. We took into account the increase in the budget of the European Court of Justice in 2016 and which helped with the process of reform. That increase was EUR 21 million. We believe that the further increase requested by the European Court of Justice for next year is not fully justified. The Council is ready to support the reforms but not at the level requested.

I think the points made by Mr Arthuis are very important. They go into the very substance of the budget, its composition, and looking into the future, how we adjust the structure of budget, both in terms of revenues but also expenditure, to the needs of modern Europe. This is something that we certainly have to discuss as part of the MFF mid-term review, that we have to discuss as part of the post 2020 discussions and of the European Commission. I think Kristalina is going to present some of the ideas tomorrow, and we look forward to that.

It is the common job of all the institutions to gradually adjust the budget in a way which would look into the future for 2017, and we want to keep the main focus of these discussions on the 2017 budget. We believe that we are proposing a budget which is balanced and which also reflects the situations in the Member States.

Lastly, I would like to express my huge appreciation for the discussion today, even at this late hour. As we have seen, views may differ but the goal is a common one, which is to adopt the best budget for Europe and its citizens. We will now eagerly await the position of the European Parliament on the budget for 2017, and we also look forward to the process of seeking to reconcile those differences together.

As in past years, we will count on the Commission, and in particular on Vice-President Georgieva, acting as a honest broker in this in this process, and I would also like to wish Mr Arthuis, the Chair of the Committee on Budgets, as well as Mr Geier and Mr Tarand as rapporteurs the best of luck for their work over the coming months within Parliament. I am also looking forward to our cooperation. I wish to assure you that the Slovak Presidency will do its best to make sure the 2017 budget is achieved and is a good budget.


Przewodniczący. Zamykam debatę.


  Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski (PPE), na piśmie. – Zaproponowanych przez Radę cięć w projekcie budżetu UE na rok 2017 nie uznałem za szczególnie zaskakujące. Jest to bowiem praktyka, której doświadczamy systematycznie od dłuższego czasu w ramach planowania budżetowego w UE. Natomiast z zaniepokojeniem przyjąłem znaczne cięcia w ramach działu 3. sięgające łącznie blisko 24,3 mln EUR w środkach na zobowiązania i 21,6 mln EUR w środkach na płatności. Przyznając, że w porównaniu do tegorocznego budżetu zarówno zobowiązania jak i płatności w tym dziale pozostają na wyższym pułapie, pragnę jednak zwrócić uwagę, że dział ten w wyjątkowym stopniu dotknięty został cięciami motywowanymi nowymi potrzebami związanymi z wyzwaniami, przed którymi stanęła Unia w ostatnim czasie. Zwracam także uwagę, iż choć wiele spośród tych cięć może wydać się niewielkich, biorąc jednak pod uwagę istnienie także stosunkowo małych budżetów, niewielkich, lecz emblematycznych i funkcjonujących z sukcesami programów np. współpracy w dziedzinie kultury, edukacji, młodzieży i sportu, cięcia te mogą zagrażać ich efektywnemu wdrażaniu i tym samym dostarczaniu oczekiwanych rezultatów.

Jako sprawozdawca Komisji Kultury i Edukacji PE ds. budżetu na rok 2017 z całą mocą po raz kolejny podkreślam, że inwestycje w kulturę i edukację przyczyniają się niewspółmiernie do promowania inteligentnego, trwałego wzrostu gospodarczego oraz stanowią strategiczną inwestycję w kapitał ludzki.

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