To avoid repeating the failure of the Lisbon Strategy, parliaments - both national and European - need to be involved from the outset in the EU's strategies for overcoming the crisis and meeting the EU 2020 targets. This was the key message to emerge on Wednesday when MEPs met members of national parliaments to discuss budget coordination within the EU.
"This time, we cannot afford to fail. We are coming out of a crisis and some countries are still in it. All our countries are in very difficult budgetary situations. We, as members of parliaments, should try to find out how to spend less but spend better, so that we achieve our goals," said Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR), chair of the EP Budgets Committee.
Francesca Balzani (S&D, IT), the MEP responsible for the 2012 budget, stressed the importance of integrating the EU 2020 strategy into EU and national budgets at an early stage: "We need to have not just formal coordination but strategic coordination, so that can fully implement the 2020 strategy and in 10 years have measurable results. One of the most important targets for us is to create more and better jobs".
Members of national parliaments argued that elected members of parliaments could improve coordination between national and EU budgets provided they were involved from the start.
Alicja Olechowska (Platforma Obywatelska party), a member of the Polish Sejm, criticised the tradition of discussing the EU budget only in terms of its size, saying "The debate should focus on the structure, not only on the size of the budget".
"Job creation is an absolute priority. There are barriers to generating employment, especially for young people" said Jordi Vilajoana (Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya) of the Spanish Senate, adding that investing in infrastructure was another priority.
Sven-Erik Bucht (Socialdemokraterna) from Sweden's Riksdagen agreed, saying "Sometimes you have to step on the gas and sometimes you should put on the brake. For agriculture expenditure, we need to brake, whereas for employment, infrastructure and research we should step on the gas".
Thirty-six members of 18 national parliaments, along with Members of the European Parliament, took part in the meeting, which was one of the EP Budgets Committee's contributions to the ongoing European Semester, the new procedure for promoting coordination of national economic policies within the European Union.
In the chair : Alain LAMASSOURE (EPP, FR)