More Europe rather than less is needed if we are to successfully tackle the crisis, according to one of the EP's negotiators for next year's EU budget. Italian Christian Democrat MEP Giovanni La Via unveiled his recipe for a successful revamp of the economy during a chat with our Facebook fans: " I firmly believe that Europe and its policies are the way out of the crisis. We need to invest, in a responsible way, in research, small and medium-sized companies and innovation."
Mr La Via pointed out that the EU budget was an investment budget, which means that funding at the European level achieves a higher return than money spent at the national level. "For example, in science and research one euro invested from the EU budget results in a return of €14."
The Council has proposed cutting funding for research and development in next year's budget. However, Mr La Via stressed investment was essential for boosting growth and employment. "I strongly think the research and development programmes are very important for growth and job. It is not possible to increase the level of employment without supporting research and innovation."
Mr La Via is clearly passionate about his topic. He overran the 45-minute session by 15 minutes and only reluctantly ended the chat because he had to leave for a meeting.
Parliament's budget committee voted this week in favour of the Commission's original proposals and in some cases even to go beyond them in areas considered vital for boosting the economy, such as research, entrepreneurship and employment. These votes help to determine how the Parliament will negotiate the budget with the Council and the European Commission.
The MEP admitted that negotiating a budget in crisis time could make it more challenging. "It's in the crisis time that, more than ever, we have to find the strength to move forward." However, he did hope they would be able to reach an agreement on 9 November during a conciliation meeting with the Council.
Mr La Via did point out that it would be possible that member states would have to contribute less in the future. "We are thinking in the negotiation on the MFF [long-term budget for 2014-2020] to support the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax. We have to increase the own resources for financing the European budget."
At the same time he also preferred to look at the crisis as an opportunity for European countries to come closer together. "I believe that the United States of Europe is the aim of our work. We should overcome our differences and focus on what unites us."