The question as to why EU Member State officials proposed deep cuts in the growth and jobs headings of the EU's 2013 budget last week, even though their Heads of State and Government had called on 29 June for more EU funding for growth and jobs, was not settled by Monday's three-way meeting of the Council's Cypriot Presidency, the European Commission and MEPs.
Has the "growth pact" already been emptied of content?
"It comes across as if the European Council's 'growth pact' has already been emptied of content. On 29 June, EU leaders approved this pact to ensure that the EU budget backs research and innovation and stimulates growth, with an extra €55 billion. One week later, the draft budget approved by national civil servants takes precisely the opposite direction.
In 2013, research spending would be cut by 15%, financial support to small and medium sized enterprises by 28% and cohesion money, which is vital for Member States in economic difficulty, by €1.6 billion.
This statement by national civil servants raises serious questions as to whom we can believe, who is in charge in the EU, who speaks for its Member States, and how far we can trust even the most formal decisions taken at EU summits.
The uncertainty that it creates undermines the confidence of financial markets and economic players, and does nothing to reassure worried citizens or kick-start growth", said Parliament's Budgets Committee Chair Alain Lamassoure.
Parliament's main negotiator for the 2013 budget, Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT) fears complicated negotiations now that the Council - at a technical level - has proposed to cut the Commission's draft budget by billions in areas such as research and innovation, cohesion policy and foreign policy.
"This is not understandable for citizens. Instead of communicating mixed measures in these difficult times, we should agree. I would also like to understand why - on the one hand - individual Member States ask the Commission for EU funds to be spent in their countries, and - on the other hand - give 'no' as an answer when they are asked to fund these actions. This is particularly difficult to understand, knowing that the Commission already trimmed down these amounts in the budget it proposes for next year", he said.