"Now is the time for radical reform, to give substance to the EU Treaty provision that expenditure is to be financed by EU own resources, meaning tax resources," EP Budget Committee Chair Alain Lamassoure said during a workshop on new resources for the EU budget.
During the conference on the future financing of the EU, Thursday and Friday in Brussels, MEPs and MPs discussed the future of EU "own resources", spending priorities for the future and how to get maximum value from every euro spent from the EU budget with representatives from governments, NGOs and the European Commission.
Opening the conference, EP President Jerzy Buzek said, "we need to be able to respond better to future crises. To create jobs, we need to ensure growth, competitiveness and a strong internal market. For that we need a solid EU budget....Every euro spent from the common budget lessens the burden on national budgets."
Division remains on proposals for own resources
MEPs and MPs from several national parliaments agreed on the need to overhaul the current system of resources, but differed on how to proceed. The Commission proposal to introduce new EU own income resources like a financial transaction tax (FTT) and a new VAT system, was generally welcomed, but many speakers raised doubts about how the proposal could be put into practice and others said any tax must be global not just at EU level.
There were also concerns that a new VAT system would increase the overall tax burden.
The current EU revenue system is "extremely complex and incomprehensible to EU citizens" and should be reformed "to increase citizens' interest in what they pay for" ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt said.
Participants also agreed that funding for regional policy projects is too complex. "The challenge is not spend more, but to spend better. Resources should be better prioritised," said Peder Lundquist, the Danish Deputy Secretary for the EU budget and multiannual financial framework (MFF). He called for more "honesty" in EU spending: "If programmes do not deliver it is better to stop them."
Danish Presidency to hold a follow-up conference
The conference is a first and follows Commission proposals on new own resources and the MFF in June. Denmark takes over the rotating EU presidency from Poland in January and in response to a call from Mr Lamoussure for a conference to facilitate the "conclusions of negotiations on both own resources and the MFF" Danish European Affairs Minister Nicolai Wammen promised a follow-up conference for the first half of next year.