Austria's federal Chancellor, Social Democrat Werner Faymann, called for a multi-annual financial framework "capable of sustainably supporting social cohesion and growth in Europe" in Strasbourg on Tuesday. In the debate on the future of the European Union in the presence of the Parliament and Commission presidents, a majority of MEPs welcomed Mr Faymann's support for more solidarity between rich and poorer member states.
Rather than debate rebates, member states should invest this money in training and youth guarantee schemes as proposed by the European Parliament, said Austria's head of government.
Mr Faymann welcomed progress in EU regulation of financial markets, which he said would ensure that risks are shared more fairly. He advocated establishing a "redemption fund" to avert divisions in the Euro zone. At the same time, member countries should together combat tax fraud and strengthen the rule of law so as to offer investors the assurances they need, he added.
EPP group leader Josph Daul (FR) underlined that Austria "has applied European policies in exemplary fashion", but urged its government to transpose the savings legislation of 2003 into its national law in full. "Hiding savings from the tax man no longer has any place in Europe", he said.
S&D group leader Hannes Swoboda (AT) presented co-operation between social partners, as practised in Austria, as a model for the EU to follow. Its success in Austria shows "that economic and social balance works", he said.
"It's good to hear a representative of a net contributor country put forward sound arguments that are true of another net contributor, across the channel", said Guy Verhoftstadt (ALDE, BE). Britain's Prime Minister is heading the wrong way, because "an à la carte Union can only destroy the common market", he added.
Catch up with the debate on Video on Demand (link to the right)