The European Parliament budget negotiators deeply regret that talks over the 2011 budget have reached deadlock over a stubborn refusal by a minority of EU governments to talk about a procedure to involve Parliament in discussions on the EU financing system and in spite of major concessions made earlier by Parliament.
The EP negotiating team, led by President Jerzy Buzek, had reiterated its willingness to limit the rise in 2011 payments to 2.91 per cent, while it had already capped commitments (which determine future payments) to 1 per cent. However, the MEPs also repeated their desire to open talks about how Parliament can be involved in a review of the EU budget financing system in order to make it less crisis-prone. They stressed that this is provided for in the Lisbon Treaty, where it says that: "Throughout the procedure leading to the adoption of the financial framework, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall take any measure necessary to facilitate its adoption." [TFEU Article 312 §5]
EP President Jerzy BUZEK said: "We wanted a deal, but I regret that a few Member States closed the door to the 2011 budget agreement. The intransigence of a few Member States in the Council undermines the confidence of our citizens that the EU is working effectively. The EP - backed by a large political majority - the Commission and a majority of Member States were ready for the agreement. Only a small minority of Member States blocked it, unwilling to engage in a constructive discussion with the EP on the implementation of the Treaty.
The European Parliament presented a very moderate position and in the end, we did not ask for one euro more than what the Council was proposing. Parliament's only condition was to have a serious agreement on rules and procedures implementing the Lisbon Treaty to avoid future budgetary crises. The Council was not ready for an agreement."
Alain LAMASSOURE, chair of the Budgets Committee, stressed that the Parliament had agreed that the EU could not escape the austerity measures taken in the case of national budgets. But, he said, "at the same time the seriousness of the budgetary crisis in all of Europe necessitates an in-depth reflection on the future financing of policies on which all EU countries have agreed," noting that the Lisbon Treaty has created "new powers and new responsibilities for the EU." Lamassoure also pointed out that "All Member States are now massively cutting public expenditure. Joining certain expenses, e.g. between certain states, or within the eurozone or between all 27, would lead to considerable economies of scale."
"A reform of the system of own resources for the EU budget has become inevitable with the wide-spread budgetary crisis in Europe," Lamassoure added, criticising some budgets ministers for their short-term thinking.
The MEPs said that since the Council of Ministers has proved to be unwilling even to talk to Parliament about these points, it would now be up to the Heads of State or Government of the EU to take up the issue and reach an agreement with the Parliament before the end of the year. The EU Heads of State or Government will meet in Brussels for a summit on 16-17 December.
EP rapporteur Sidonia JĘDRZEJEWSKA said: "The diplomats around the table are not willing to have a dialogue. What is the point of having diplomats if they are not ready to engage in dialogue? It is a matter of sadness that we have reached the point of failure in these negotiations - the responsibility lies with the Council."
Note to the editors:
The Commission now needs to propose a new draft budget. There is no deadline for this, but the Commission will probably do this as soon as it can. After this proposal, the Council must adopt its position within one month and after that, MEPs have 42 days to react These are the maximum limits - the institutions could of course adopt their positions much faster, aiming at an agreement in December. It should be noted in this context that the European Council has included the EU budget on the agenda for its 16-17 December summit.