President. − The next item is the report (A7-0325/2011) by Ingeborg Gräßle and Crescenzio Rivellini, on behalf of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Budgetary Control, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union (COM(2010)0815 – C7-0016/2011 – 2010/0395(COD)).
Ingeborg Gräßle, rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, simplification is sometimes extremely complicated. As rapporteurs, we have tabled a lot of amendments that are intended to standardise the rules and hopefully solve the common problems in relation to all the funds at the same time, for example, eligible costs or the determination of personnel costs. As rapporteurs, we have tried to learn from the European Union’s previous mistakes. We want to establish uniform rules in order, at least, to put an end to the multitude of different rules. We will also ensure that there is a great deal more transparency in the budget than there has been up to now. That also represents a major step towards standardisation and proximity to the citizens.
I would like to thank everyone who has worked on this, first and foremost my corapporteur and the members of our working group, my fellow Members, the assistants and the many committed officials here in this House and in the Commission who have helped us. Last but not least, I would like to thank Christian Sichel, who has been my assistant for many years and right now is looking after his baby – I send my regards to him. I am indebted to my fellow Members for supporting our approach, even if that support is with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
I would like to call on the Commission to continue on the current path towards standardisation. It would be a huge step forwards if the Commission could implement non-contradictory rules in its own institution. It has to be possible for it to do that in its own institution. That would be the greatest contribution to simplification that we and you could achieve.
Today we are only voting on the report – the amendments – but not the resolution, because we have begun friendly talks with the Council, which I very much welcome. We also want to continue these friendly talks.
Today, we have the carry-overs and the financial instruments before us, because they did not receive majority support in committee. I would like to make a strong plea for support for these amendments, which we have presented as a basis and in which we have accepted the Commission’s definitions. I would also like to make a sincere request for the amendments relating to the financial instruments for which we are presenting rules for the first time – a first definition of project bonds has been formulated – to be accepted. We are keen to link the use of financial instruments to sector-specific basic acts. We want the competent committees to discuss the use of financial instruments once again and to be able to give their opinions on this. That is the purpose of this provision.
I would like to thank Ms Brantner for her clarification in an oral amendment relating to Amendment 271, which makes it clear that we do not want an additional legislative act on financial instruments, but that we want to give this a sector-specific basis. I would ask for your support for Amendments 271 to 278. In these amendments, we lay down the maximum liability with regard to taxpayers’ money. We must limit the risk to European taxpayers in connection with the use of financial instruments. We owe that to taxpayers. We are establishing the Commission’s accountability. We do not want it to be possible for tax havens to be used in order to accumulate money for financial instruments. We owe that to our taxpayers, too.
In two or three years’ time, we want a mid-term review of how these instruments have progressed and what conclusions we can draw from them. We also want the legal form of the instruments to be published on the Commission’s website. That will also increase transparency and ensure that we are definitely able to monitor what we have adopted. It would have been nice if the Commission had put forward these proposals itself. As you did not put them forward, we had to do so. I would therefore sincerely request that we also give them majority support here in this House. Once again, I would like to thank all my colleagues. I am pleased that we are also making good progress in connection with the forthcoming talks with the Council and that we will also be able to find solutions to what certainly are very technical and complex problems.