Procedure : 2007/2017(BUD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0123/2007

Texts tabled :

A6-0123/2007

Debates :

PV 23/04/2007 - 20
CRE 23/04/2007 - 20

Votes :

PV 24/04/2007 - 7.29
CRE 24/04/2007 - 7.29
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0131

REPORT     
PDF 307kDOC 274k
3 April 2007
PE 386.388v03-00 A6-0123/2007

on the Commission's annual policy strategy for the 2008 budget procedure

(2007/2017(BUD))

Section III - Commission

Committee on Budgets

Rapporteur: Kyösti Virrankoski

PR_BUD_Strategy

ERRATA/ADDENDA
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on International Trade

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the Commission's annual policy strategy for the 2008 budget procedure, Section III - Commission
(2007/2017(BUD))

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Annual Policy Strategy for 2008 (COM(2007)0065),

–       having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(1)

–       having regard to Article 272 of the EC Treaty and Article 177 of the Euratom Treaty,

–       having regard to Rule 112(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–       having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on International Trade (A6-0123/2007),

A.     whereas the EU budget for 2008 will be the second to be agreed in the framework of the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) on budgetary discipline and sound financial management agreed on 17 May 2006,

B.    whereas the 2008 budget will be the first to be agreed with Romania and Bulgaria as members of the EU,

C.   whereas the process of globalisation continues apace, with all of its attendant opportunities and challenges in the economic, social, and environmental spheres, whereas the 2008 budget must ensure that the EU continues to be in a position to benefit from the opportunities and meet the challenges of globalisation and to cope with its responsibility as a global actor through an appropriate mix of forward-looking internal and external policies,

D.   whereas 2007 will be the first year of implementation of many new EU spending programmes for the 2007 - 2013 financial programming period, further to the adoption of many new legal bases during 2006, whereas data on implementation of the 2007 budget, particularly in terms of commitment appropriations, will provide important information as to the capacity of the Commission and the Member States to implement Parliament's priorities,

Political context

1.    Highlights that the 2008 budget will be prepared, presented and debated against a backdrop of the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Treaty of Rome and a renewed push to see progress on the Constitutional Treaty; notes that 2007 will see the start of preparatory work on the 2008-2009 full, wide-ranging review (mid-term review) of the 2007-2013 multi-annual financial framework (MFF); also notes its resolution of 29 March 2007 on the Union's system of own resources;

2.    Underlines the importance it attaches to the capacity of an EU of 27 members to make globalisation an opportunity for its citizens and to lead international action in meeting the challenges that globalisation presents; highlights, in this context, the importance of ensuring that the EU’s financial and human resources are appropriately allocated so as to secure the proper functioning of the EU;

3.    Notes the proposals indicated by the Commission under the labels prosperity, solidarity, security, external projection; agrees that, at the same time, the EU must maintain its focus on the Lisbon agenda and specifically on growth and jobs, competitiveness and SMEs; considers that, in many cases, such as the area of energy policy and climate change, these proposals are an example of a more flexible approach by the EU to engaging with the real challenges that European citizens face; points out, however, that, as a result of very small margins under the different ceilings of expenditure, the EU’s capacity to react to policy changes in budgetary terms is extremely limited;

4.    Considers it its responsibility as budgetary authority to ensure that the funding allocated to the EU budget is spent with a view to delivering value for money, in particular to optimise the limited resources; intends to pursue a budget for results building on the approach initiated in budget 2007 in cooperation with the specialised committees;

5.    Reiterates its call for the EU's annual policy priorities to be set out in a manner that can be effectively communicated to the citizens of Europe and stresses that this resolution sets out the views of the European Parliament as regards the forthcoming budgetary procedure; strongly regrets that the APS does not adequately reflect Parliament´s priorities; expects to see due account taken of this resolution in the 2008 preliminary draft budget (PDB); emphasises that the various initiatives proposed by the Commission in the 2008 APS should be seen in the context of the very recently agreed spending programmes and political priorities that underpin the overall financial envelopes agreed for the 2007-2013 MFF in the IIA of 17 May 2006;

6.    Notes the presentation by Commissioner Wallström to the Conference of Presidents on 8 February 2007 on the Commission's legislative and work programme 2007 but regrets the lack of interaction between the Legislative Work Programme and the budget procedure; in line with the Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission, insists upon a better coherence between the two procedures; reminds the Commission of its commitment made during the 2007 budget procedure and the letter from President Barroso of December 2006 concerning an improved matching of legislative priorities and budgetary decisions; in this context, takes note of the Commission priorities set out in the APS Communication and expects the Commission to adjust these priorities on the basis of the decisions to be taken by the budgetary authority in the course of the annual procedure;

A budget for results - transparent presentation, clear objectives, accurate implementation

7.    Underlines once again the importance that it attaches to EU spending programmes effectively delivering on the political objectives which they were legislated to achieve; considers that policy delivery, and clear evidence thereof, has always been fundamental to the legitimacy of the EU in the eyes of its citizens; affirms its intention, therefore, to give to its work on the 2008 budget the philosophy of a 'budget for results'; stresses that those results will not be assessed solely on the basis of accounting criteria and points out that this approach will be followed in a spirit of sound interinstitutional cooperation;

8.    As a first step towards a budget for results, stresses the importance of clarity, consistency and transparency in the presentation of the budget; supports the Activity based budgeting (ABB) approach, which aims to match financial and human resources to political objectives according to the policy areas of Commission spending; notes that the ABB nomenclature is not easily reconciled with the categories of the MFF headings; further regrets that the APS classifications of prosperity, solidarity, security and external projection represent a third classification system that is rather arbitrary as regards the classification of policy areas under the different chapters, does not have any major value from a budgetary perspective and cannot easily be reconciled with the ABB and MFF categorisations; demands that the Commission respect more closely the ABB and MFF structures and provide clear indications on the correspondence between this third classification and the budgetary headings of the IIA;

9.    Considers that the Activity Statements produced by the Commission for each policy area in the PDB constitute a key element in the effective oversight of EU spending by the Budgetary Authority; underlines that, if policy objectives are not clear, then effective policy evaluation is impossible; requests an improvement in the clarity of presentation of these Activity Statements in the 2008 PDB; demands greater focus on policy objectives and measurement of policy outcomes and less information on administrative process than has frequently been the case in previous PDB documents;

10.  Underlines the importance of monitoring budget implementation as a tool for examining the delivery of policy; welcomes the recent improvements in the provision of data on implementation by the Commission and in particular the Budget Forecast Alert system; notes that due to the BFA, initial implementation figures for the first year of spending of the new programmes for 2007 - 2013 will become available during 2007; considers that this information may prove useful in pushing the European Commission and the Member States to fully respect the EP political priorities defined in the 2007 budget and in this resolution;

Human resources - appropriate allocation, personal responsibility, monitored outsourcing

11.  Is strongly of the view that an effective and cost-efficient administrative system for the European Union must be equipped with the necessary level of resources; awaits with interest the results of the screening exercise being carried out by the Commission services on the Commission's real staff needs that is due to be presented on 30 April 2007; is convinced that this screening of Commission staff is a key exercise allowing the Commission to identify its real potential and to provide more staff for the new political priorities such as energy, climate change, immigration, the implementation of multi-annual programmes and oversight of the transposition of EU law in the Member States; will evaluate the outcome of the screening in great depth in order to meet future political challenges starting from the 2008 budget procedure;

12.  Welcomes the further indications in the 2008 APS of the Commission's efforts to re-direct its human resources towards political priorities but rejects the presentation of these priorities according to the labels prosperity, solidarity, security and external projection; therefore requests the Commission to set out clearly in the PDB, according to the ABB structure, further information regarding human resources policy and redeployment strategy for 2008, taking into account the results of the screening exercise;

13.  Expresses its concern that the expansion of existing decentralised agencies will reduce the margins available under the headings of the MFF; is further concerned that this reduction in available margins will reduce the scope for funding new priorities, such as pilot projects and preparatory actions, and will also reduce the funds available for the expansion of existing programmes; notes that Article 47 of the IIA of 17 May 2006 obliges the Commission to assess the budgetary implications for the expenditure heading concerned when drawing up a proposal for the creation of a new decentralised agency; will seek to ensure that the functioning of decentralised agencies brings added value and furthers the interests of EU citizens;

14.  Notes that any further expansion in the number of executive agencies and other bodies would need to be financed from the relevant programme envelope; expresses its concern, therefore, that any further growth in executive agencies and other bodies may reduce the operational funds available within programme envelopes;

15.  Is determined to clarify the definition, the role and the cost of all bodies defined under Article 185 of the Financial Regulation, to assess the cost effectiveness of such modes of governance and to secure on a systematic basis at inter-institutional level the application of the procedure laid down in point 47 of the IIA of 17 May 2006 in the course of the 2008 annual budget procedure;

16.  Considers that decentralisation of responsibilities to the different Directorates-General and personal responsibility of EU officials are an important element of the Activity-based management (ABM) approach; notes that further work may be necessary to clarify some of the chains of responsibility within the EU institutions; considers that this issue is of particular importance in light of the apparent trend towards 'outsourcing' or 'externalisation' of implementation tasks to executive agencies and other ad hoc bodies;

17.  Is concerned that the creation of executive agencies and other ad hoc bodies may lead to a growth in the number of EU officials and contractual agents, unless posts in the relevant Commission Directorate-General are reduced to offset the increase, and to a weakening of the oversight of the EU administration; requests the Commission to explain in the 2008 PDB how posts requested in new executive agencies and other ad hoc bodies will be offset by reductions in the responsible Directorate-General; further requests the Commission to address in the 2008 PDB the issue of appropriate oversight of executive agencies and other ad hoc bodies so as to ensure democratic accountability; urges observance of the Code of Conduct on the Setting-up of Executive Agencies, in particular as regards the parliamentary scrutiny of financing and staffing of the agencies;

Multiannual Financial framework - programming, margins, front- and back-loading

18.  Takes note of the Commission’s latest update of the financial programming 2007-2013; notes the limited, and in some cases decreasing, margins left under headings 1a and 3 and strongly opposes the Commission’s proposal to use the small margins left available under these two headings for new initiatives; expresses its strong concern that additional margins would be created mainly by backloading existing multiannual programmes; considers that the small margins limit the possibility of addressing efficiently any urgent or new political priority; asks the Commission to present at the next trialogue an overview of the margins in the different headings, and an update of the financial programming, in accordance with point 46 of the IIA, and the potential financial consequences of the proposals announced in the legislative programme;

19.  Wishes to explore possibilities for a better presentation, facilitating easier and better understanding of the different financial programming and budget documents provided to the budgetary authority (financial programming and Annual Policy Strategy document); points out that, at the moment, there is neither a clear indication of the exact changes made compared to the previous financial programming in the tables annexed to the financial programming nor a clear indication of how increases are being compensated for or how back- and front-loadings are taking place;

20.  Recalls that, as regards pilot projects and preparatory actions for the 2008 budget procedure, according to Annex II, Part D, of the IIA 'both arms of the budgetary authority will inform the Commission by mid-June of their intentions'; expresses its concern that, in some headings and sub-headings of the budget, there may not be sufficient margins available for major new pilot projects and preparatory actions;

21.  Notes with concern the possible impact of the changes that the Commission proposes to the financial programming in Section III of the 2008 APS on what are already small margins and/or operational programmes, especially as a result of increased funding for agencies or the creation of new funds; regrets that such proposals were presented less than one month after the most recent financial programming update; expects the Commission to present these proposals in due course in the 2008 PDB and next Financial Programming, especially if they would imply a change to the MFF;

22.  Expresses its concern about the proposed back-loading of certain programmes in the 2008 APS and the problems that this may be storing up for future years of the MFF taking into account the problem of increasing RALs; further notes that in the 2007 budget, for its own priority areas, Parliament adopted commitment levels above the average level of commitments foreseen in the multi-annual programme envelopes for a number of programmes; observes that some degree of interinstitutional cooperation regarding front- and back-loading of commitments across the budget may be necessary to ensure a coherent programming of commitments over the duration of the MFF respecting the priorities of the Parliament as expressed in the IIA;

Specific points

23.  Supports the Commission's intention to include the concepts of Better Regulation and the simplification of procedure in all new initiatives, reforms and working methods in order to make them more understandable for citizens; recalls that as stated in its resolution of 13 December 2006 on the Commission's legislative and work programme for 2007(2), the implementation of the concept 'Better regulation' should respect fully the principles and conditions laid down in Parliament's resolution of 16 May 2006 on the strategy for simplification of the regulatory environment(3);

24.  Highlights that energy efficiency is a highly future-oriented priority for tackling the problem of climate change; agrees that such a policy requests a cross-cutting strategy and asks the Commission to continue to take decisive actions towards this aim;

25.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to undertake key actions in the field of research and innovation to bring forward the implementation of the Lisbon strategy in 2008; supports, in particular, the preparatory work in order to ensure that a decision to set up a European Institute of Technology (EIT) is adopted in the course of 2007; urges the Commission to come up with more clarifications on the financing of the EIT and expects that its financing would be assured by additional financial appropriations, and not by reducing any financial resources of the FP7; awaits further information on the proposed Executive Agency for the management parts of FP7;

26.  Welcomes the outcome of the Trialogue held on 7 March 2007 on the financing of the Joint Undertaking for ITER and on the further development of the procedure foreseen by point 47 of the IIA, the results of which are attached to this resolution;

27.  Is worried about the Commission's proposed 'backloading' for many of the new programmes under heading 1a; considers that this does not constitute a proper way of financial programming; requests the Commission to provide information on the effects this back-loading exercise has on all programmes for which the legal basis has not yet been adopted and the effects on the available margins for the forthcoming years; reminds the Commission that, according to Article 37 of the IIA the budgetary authority and the Commission are allowed to depart up to 5% from the amount foreseen in the legislative act;

28.  Calls upon the Commission, with a view to achieving enhanced solidarity and prosperity, to clarify its intentions regarding the financial programming of 'Lifelong learning' and to treat it as a priority; considers that an increase in financial resources for four agencies (ERA, EMSA, EASA, GSA) should avoid any reduction in TEN-T financial programme and therefore requests clarifications on how the Commission is going to compensate the TEN-T programme in the years to come, so that the total financial envelope agreed for the TEN-Ts in MFF is implemented;

29.  Agrees with the Commission that 2008 will be crucial for European cohesion policy as the first full year of implementation of the new operational programmes 2007-2013; therefore hopes that cohesion policy will remain a priority for both arms of the budgetary authority during the 2008 budget procedure;

30.  Takes note that the Commission proposes to decrease the margin for heading 2 by EUR 2 million in order to cover additional activities of the European Environment Agency (EEA); further notes the Commission's intention under heading 3a to increase the appropriations for Frontex by EUR 10 900 000 in 2008 and to reinforce funding for EUROJUST by an additional EUR 2 500 000 per year for the period 2008 to 2013; reminds the Commission that all of these increases have to be agreed by the budgetary authority within the framework of the annual budget procedure and/ or by the legislative authority if it implies a change in the reference amounts of adopted programmes;

31.  Reminds the Commission that, under the IIA of 17 May 2006, most financial resources for the environment policy areas are concentrated under heading 2; notes the IIA decision to distribute an additional EUR 100 million to heading 2, of which EUR 50 million are being reserved for the new financial instrument for the environment LIFE+; recalls that a final agreement on LIFE+ for the years 2007-2013 was reached on 27 March 2007; stresses the importance of leaving sufficient margins until all pending legislative procedures are completed;

32.  Expects precise proposals from the Commission as regards the mid-term review of the common agricultural policy; asks therefore to be informed about the arrangements for and scope of the mid-term review the Commission intends to conduct with a view to assessing the initial results of the 2003 reform;

33.  Considers that the core business of communication and information policy is to inform the EU citizens on the actions and programmes realised by the EU and the improvements generated over the last years; is of the opinion that the campaign on political priorities should be defined at a later stage of the budgetary procedure taking into account Parliament's priorities and focusing on policy areas duly identified at the time of the first reading;

34.  Recalls that all Institutions have the right to implement communication policy as part of their institutional autonomy, as established in Article 49 of the Financial Regulation; encourages the Commission to continue to defend, as the other Institutions do, its own autonomy in this matter; recognises the need for coordination of the different communication policies implemented by the Institutions within the Interinstitutional group on information and communication; calls on the Interinstitutional group to present a more concrete and coordinated working plan for 2008 by the end of October 2007; in this regard, invites the Commission to remain ambitious concerning its communication policy towards citizens, bearing in mind that 2008 is the year preceding the next European elections and the need to prepare the ground for the expected re-launch of the institutional reform;

35.  Notes the Commission's Communication Priorities for 2008 which will not change the financial programming for heading 3b;

36.  Broadly endorses the objectives for external actions as set out in the APS, which have been developed on a continuity basis and which are to be implemented, for the second year, through the new set of EU external instruments adopted in 2006; puts major emphasis on effective implementation and the respect of Parliament's rights within this framework; calls for a first assessment of its launch already in the second half of 2007;

37.  Looks forward to a meaningful cooperation with the Commission in the framework of working groups established by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development to monitor the programming and implementation of the new external assistance instruments; notes the envisaged mid-term review of the functioning of the external assistance instruments; reiterates Parliament's will to be fully involved in this process;

38.  Stresses the importance of multilingualism as a fundamental part of the European heritage, as well as the need for citizens to be provided with information in their own mother tongues;

39.  Asks for the further reinforcement of cooperation with the developing countries, in particular on climate change and migration, with continuous commitments for fulfilling the millennium development goals especially in basic health and basic education;

40.  Notes the Commission's concept of an 'external projection of priorities', such as the Global Energy Efficiency Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) or the Global Climate Policy Alliance, and the fact that these new priorities in heading 4 appear to require a EUR 23 100 000 reinforcement in 2008; insists, however, upon clarity concerning the origin of the proposed funding for each action;

41.  Notes that the overall margin forecast for heading 4 is EUR 334 million in order to allow for an adequate response to future needs, such as the outcome of negotiations on the final status of Kosovo and the Middle-East Peace process; emphasises strongly that this margin of EUR 334 million is, in fact, artificially high insofar as it contains EUR 200 million originally foreseen for the Guarantee Fund for loans, which will now only need to be provisioned as from 2009 for transitional reasons; underlines, therefore, that an extra EUR 200 million is available in 2008 on an exceptional basis and urges caution that this is not automatically allocated to longer-term needs which could not then necessarily be financed in later years;

42.  Notes an increased focus in the APS on linking external and internal objectives, and the use of the term 'full coherence'; takes the view that this issue merits further analysis and explanation by the Commission, especially given that one of the main criticisms of EU policy in the past has been an alleged lack of coherence between external and internal policies; further underlines the importance of democracy and positive change in partner countries and regions;

43.  Insists that funding allocations in all external and enlargement instruments reflect the priority given by the EU to support for democracy and human rights, including minority rights;

44.  Notes that the Commission plans to conclude Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with ACP countries in 2007; asks the Commission and the Member States to provide further help to support ACP countries in the transition period from the current trade regime to EPAs;

45.  Considers that the rapidly evolving situation in the field of CFSP merits continuous scrutiny and cooperation between the institutions; underlines, in this respect, the importance it attaches to the fulfilment of the CFSP provisions in the IIA of 17 May 2006 and the tools provided therein; considers that the foreign policy and the linked financial resources needed can only be properly assessed once the Council has consulted Parliament, by 15 June 2007, on the main aspects and basic choices of CFSP;

46.  Notes the Commission's proposal for the allocation of human resources in 2008, which includes 890 new posts related to recent enlargements; recalls that 2008 is the final year of the human resources plan related to the 2004 enlargement, according to which 640 additional posts are requested for 2008; further recalls that 250 new posts following the enlargement to Bulgaria and Romania are requested for 2008, with a similar request expected in 2009; notes that only 50% of the additional posts for 2008 are due to be allocated to the extension of activities due to the recent enlargements; considers that the Commission's review of human resources should be in line with the Better Regulation strategy initiated in 2006 while fully taking into account the need for proper and efficient implementation of the new spending programmes for the 2007-2013 financial programming period;

47.  Welcomes the principle of the redeployment of staff according to political priorities but considers that the rate of redeployment should be more ambitious than 1%; recalls that this redeployment must take full account of the priorities identified by Parliament; expects the Commission to take the opportunity of the ongoing screening exercise to make a significant shift in the prioritisation of staff allocation and the proportion of overhead; will assess the level of Commission staff needs in the global context of heading 5 during the annual budgetary procedure; notes the Commission's proposed redeployment of 565 staff, with 287 redeployed between departments and 278 redeployed within departments; requests the Commission to supply more detailed information in the PDB regarding the redeployment of staff so that Parliament has the necessary information to assess whether the 1% target is an appropriate target; considers that the creation of a central redeployment pool should be in line with the principle of administrative simplification, and better delivery of programmes and actions while avoiding unnecessary administrative burdens;

48.  Notes that the opinions of the Committees on Foreign Affairs and on International Trade are annexed to this resolution; considers that these opinions contributed important elements to be taken into consideration during the 2008 budget procedure;

o o

49.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors.

(1)

OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.

(2)

Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0565.

(3)

Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0205.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Working Document No 1 on a budget for results

Introduction

1.  This working document is the first in the series that will be produced by the general rapporteur during the course of the preparation of the 2008 budget.

2.  In the budgetary negotiations that will take place in the second half of this year, the European Parliament will achieve most vis-à-vis the Commission and Council if it is able to negotiate on the basis of broadly shared objectives and common goals. Your rapporteur therefore underlines his intention to consult regularly with members of Parliament, its specialised committees and, in particular, his colleagues on the Budgets Committee, with a view to building a strong Parliamentary approach to the 2008 budget.

3.  Your rapporteur notes that this working document has benefited from the debate and views expressed during the first exchange of views on priorities for the 2008 budget held in the Committee on Budgets on 23 January 2007.

4.  The structure of the working document is as follows. The first section sets out the rapporteur's concept of a budget for results. The second section focuses on the early stages of the annual budget procedure and on issues linked to the structure of the EU budget and human resources. The third section deals with policy priorities.

5.  Preparatory work on the 2008 budget is of course not being conducted in a vacuum. In terms of the politics of the European Union, 2007 sees the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome and a renewed push to make progress on the Constitutional Treaty. Globalisation, with all of its attendant opportunities and challenges - economic, social and environmental - appears set to continue apace and issues such as energy security, climate change and migration are gaining ever greater prominence.

6.  As regards the financing of the European Union, 2007 is the first year of the 2007 - 2013 multi-annual financial framework (MFF). The 2008 budget will therefore be the second to be agreed within the overall ceilings set out in annex 1 (attached as annex 1 of this working document) of the 17 May 2006 inter-institutional agreement (IIA). 2008 will be the penultimate year of Parliament's sixth legislature and of the Barroso Commission. As a result, the 2008 budget will be prepared in the context of further work towards the review of the financial perspective concerning both revenue and expenditure. The 2008 budget will build upon the 2007 budget. Your rapporteur highlights the work of the standing rapporteurs on the financial perspective, own resources, and of the 2007 general rapporteur, respectively, and notes that annex 2 of this working document sets out the summary results of the 2007 budget procedure by MFF budget heading. These figures provide the backdrop to the work ahead in preparing the 2008 budget.

I. A budget for results

7.  The 2008 general rapporteur proposes that the 2008 budget should be a 'budget for results'. The overall philosophy that your rapporteur proposes to the Committee builds directly upon the approach of the 2007 general rapporteur. A 'budget for results' means that what counts in the end is the policy outcome. The Budgetary Authority should focus a great deal of attention on ensuring that policy is delivered to meet the political objectives for which it was legislated in the first place. For example:

· Is European policy actually improving citizens' lives?

· Is European education and training policy building a mature understanding of European culture and values and improving the skills of young people in a way that raises EU competitiveness in the modern, globalised economy?

· Is research and development support leading to modernisation and enhanced efficiency of EU companies, reflected, for example, by more patents being filed by EU companies?

· Is regional policy raising GDP per capita in the less-developed regions of the EU?

· Is the EU fulfilling its obligations as a global player in an effective and balanced way?

8.  In order to answer these questions, hard evidence is needed on the impact of spending. Your rapporteur intends to invite the Commission to present such data on evidence of the delivery of political objectives to the benefit of EU citizens to the Committee on Budgets. He wishes to build on the approach taken in the 2007 budget procedure to use studies and evidence from external experts to try to gather evidence about the effectiveness of EU spending. This should serve in turn to increase the impact of Parliament's role as one half of the Budget Authority in ensuring that public money is well spent. Your rapporteur therefore wishes to see a number of studies conducted on behalf of the Committee on Budgets, which can then inform priorities during the budget negotiation. A number of ideas are set out in the second section of this working document.

9.  Your rapporteur notes the excellent outcome that Parliament was able to achieve on the revision of the Financial Regulation during 2006. However, he considers that there remain examples in which an excessively legalistic approach to the process of implementing EU policy hampers effective and efficient delivery. Striking the right balance between, on the one hand, trust, and, on the other, a structure of rules to prevent malfeasance, is one of the major challenges of an effective approach to budgetary monitoring and oversight.

II. Budget process and budget structure

The Annual Policy Strategy

10. The Commission is due to present its Annual Policy Strategy (APS) for 2008 on 22 February. The APS is an important document that sets out the Commission's policy objectives for 2008. The Commission's proposal for the financing of these objectives is the preliminary draft budget (PDB) 2008, which is likely to be adopted on 2 May 2007. It is therefore imperative that Parliament is able to communicate a coherent set of priorities of its own for the 2008 budget year in advance of 2 May in order that the Commission can incorporate these priorities into the 2008 PDB. Your rapporteur intends to use this working document, and the subsequent comments of fellow members of the Budgets Committee, in preparing his draft report on the 2008 APS. The APS resolution should then serve as a tool of Parliamentary influence in advance of the adoption by the Commission of the PDB.

Activity-based budgeting and activity statements

11. Your rapporteur has long been a supporter of the activity-based budgeting (ABB) concept, which has at its heart the objective of matching financial and human resources to political priorities. He was a strong supporter of the introduction of the ABB approach into the Commission's resource budgeting system, which allocated resources across 'policy areas' (also sometimes referred to as budget 'titles') that essentially mapped directly onto each of the Commission's Directorates-General (DGs). Spending on environmental policy, for example, is therefore covered under budget title 07 'Environment'. This spending is allocated to the Commission's Environment Directorate-General. In broad terms the ABB concept has allowed the Budgetary Authority to gain a better grip on the direction of spending.

12. However, your rapporteur wishes to highlight that the ABB approach and the heading structure of the financial perspective and its multi-annual envelopes (see annex 1) are not easily reconciled. Whilst the financial perspective headings are a useful political categorization of the EU spending for 2007 - 2013, overlapping ABB budget titles and MFF heading categorisations can lead to obfuscation. For example, in the 2007 PDB, the policy area/ budget title 'Environment' is spread across 4 MFF headings (2, 3b, 4 and 5). Your rapporteur wishes to underline that clarity of presentation by the Commission of its spending proposals is important for proper scrutiny of spending by the Budgetary Authority.

13. The activity statements that each Commission Directorate-General produces on the objectives, activities and outcomes of its policies are a key tool for the Budgetary Authority to assess the extent to which the ABB approach is functioning. The activity statements are produced by each Commission DG and included in the PDB. Your rapporteur welcomes the production of these documents but notes that they have, in the past, focussed too much on long descriptions of process and insufficiently on the link between policy objectives and policy outcomes. Your rapporteur intends to look closely at the activity statements for 2008.

Human resources

14. Before turning to policy priorities for the 2008, your rapporteur wishes also to highlight the importance of human resources. The Parliament supported a number of elements of the Commission's argument against stringent cuts in Commission staffing levels during the 2007 budget procedure, but demanded a screening exercise to be carried out by the Commission on its real staffing needs by 30 April 2007. Your rapporteur awaits this document with interest.

15. An issue linked to the debate about the MFF/ ABB budget structures is that heading 5 'administration' may not be capturing all of the real administration costs of the Commission. In the context of the ongoing work of the Committee on Budget's standing rapporteur on agencies, it is worth highlighting three specific issues at this early stage of preparatory analysis for the 2008 budget procedure. First, the Commission appears to be making increasing use of executive agencies to deliver specific policies. Where executive agencies take work away from the 'parent' DG previously conducting these tasks, other things equal fewer staff should be needed in the 'parent' DG. The budget 2008 activity statements should deal with this issue. Second, executive agencies are just one example of the apparent growth of an 'outsourcing' culture within the Commission that may be seeing implementation activities handed out to 'ad hoc bodies' that are not clearly specified in the Financial Regulation. Such 'outsourcing' may help to ensure more effective implementation, but it should be done in a manner that is transparent to the Budgetary Authority and which does not lead to an expansion of hidden human resources costs that are not easily visible in heading 5 of the budget. Third, it is important that there is effective oversight of the implementation tasks carried out by agencies, executive agencies and other ad hoc bodies, which all employ a higher proportion of staff on fixed term contracts than the Commission itself. Further information is required on the human resources policies of these bodies in order to assess the level of oversight and to ensure that there exists an appropriate level of individual responsibility for the staff they employ.

III. Policy priorities

16. Your rapporteur considers that Parliament's resolution on the Commission's Annual Policy Strategy is the appropriate place for a presentation of its policy priorities for the 2008 budget. He does not attempt to set out a comprehensive list here. However, in line with the 'budget for results' approach, the remainder of this working document sets out some ideas on key themes and priorities. These priorities are presented in the form of topics for studies that the Committee on Budgets might commission to external experts. If these studies can be presented to the committee before the summer break, then they might provide stimuli for the main stages of budgetary procedure in the autumn. It would of course be important to ensure that these studies were consistent with work being conducted in the specialised committees.

The topics covered might also provide ideas for pilot projects and preparatory actions, on which Annex II (D) of the IIA includes the commitment for the Parliament to come forward with its intentions by mid-June.

17. Your rapporteur has striven to include ideas from colleagues, in particular during the discussion in the Committee on Budgets on 23 January. He looks forward to further discussion with colleagues.

Policy priorities and issues for further study

· EU competitiveness and life-long learning

18. The high living standards of EU citizens relative to other regions of the world are reflected in a relatively high cost-base for EU companies. EU companies therefore need to be adaptable and to employ well-trained staff to compete in a globalised economy. Consequently, the European economy depends, to a large degree, on the skills of its people. The service sector represents over 70 percent of employment in some of the wealthiest regions of the EU and the general trend, linked to the ongoing process of globalisation, would seem to be towards further growth in the services sector in Europe. EU economic competitiveness is too often characterised in terms of industrial numbers. These matter, but are only a part of the story. The life-long learning programme is an important element of efforts to help European citizens to engage with a globalised world. The study could look at the, perhaps sometimes neglected, economic value added of the scheme by looking at the opportunities that the scheme helps to create for those involved.

· The EU as a global player/ assessment of the budgetary implications of the EU's growing role in civilian and military crisis missions

19. In recent years the EU's engagement in civilian and military crisis missions has increased very significantly.  Such missions can be financed through the Stability Instrument, CFSP budget, Athena mechanism or national contributions.  Partly in view of the forthcoming mission to Kosovo, this study would seek to draw lessons from previous missions as regards the most appropriate/ effective means of providing finance for different types of mission.  The study would also examine the degree of parliamentary oversight that can be achieved through the various funding approaches.  The study could also usefully set out the linkages between the financing decisions and the 'life-cycle' of a mission: from inception to post hoc evaluation.

· Evaluating administrative reform in the European Commission

20. This study would seek to evaluate the effectiveness of the 'Kinnock' reforms in streamlining the administration of the European Commission.  The study would examine the extent to which the reforms have improved recruitment and promotion on the basis of merit, staff and financial management procedures within the Commission.  The Activity-based budgeting (ABB) approach was also introduced in recent years as a means of better matching Commission resources to policy objectives.  The study should also examine the extent to which this has been effective and any cross-linkages that may have occurred between the Kinnock reforms and the introduction of ABB.

· Improving the impact of the structural funds on achieving the Lisbon objectives

21. The structural funds are aimed at funding structural and cohesion policy in the EU's less-developed regions and are spent according to programmes presented by member states. However, the Lisbon Goals include a commitment to raise EU spending on research and development to 3% of EU GDP.  The 7th research framework programme is designed to help achieve this objective, but there is scope for a greater contribution from existing structural funds.  The Commission's Annual Progress report on Lisbon from December 2006 indicates that member states could be doing more in this area. This may be particularly so for those member states that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.  The study should therefore look at the extent to which existing structural funds are really contributing to enhancing the EU's R+D capacity and suggest measures through which this contribution could be improved.

· Assessment of EU funding for illegal migration monitoring

22. The EU's external borders are subject to a permanent and a considerable migratory pressure, with the whole of the southern border under particular pressure. The necessity to better control the EU's external borders is one of the top priorities of the European Parliament.  This study should therefore assess EU funding for illegal migration monitoring to compare the financial resources given to the new instruments such as the External Borders Fund, European Refugee Fund, European Fund for the integration of third-country nationals as well as the FRONTEX Agency, with their aims and policy objectives. The study should also cover the assessment of whether the funds and the division between different instruments are optimal to achieve policy goals and give support to member states coping with immigration.

· Does the EU have the financial resources available to meet its common objectives on energy policy and climate change?

23. The Commission presented major communications in January 2007 on climate change and an energy policy for Europe.  The communications set out ambitious objectives as regards sustainability, security and competitiveness of supply.  Within the EU budget, as within any budget, there is competition between competing priorities for limited funds.  However, given the prominence that energy/ climate change policies have acquired in recent years, this study would examine whether the financial resources available have been able to keep pace?  This study should therefore compare the financial resources available with the real needs that the policy objectives imply and make suggestions about how additional financing, if considered necessary, might be most effectively and transparently used.

· Funding the multifunctionality of European agriculture

24. The multifunctionality of the agricultural sector has long been recognised in European policymaking.  An important element of the rural development pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) concerns programmes to ensure the sustainability of European farmland, countryside and rural livelihoods.  The European Union now includes 27 member states, and the CAP will undergo further reforms in the future.  In this context, this study could begin by describing the changes in rural development policy so far enacted.  It could then examine scenarios concerning what further developments in rural development policy might imply for the European agricultural sector: how would this affect farmers' activities and incomes? what role would there be for innovative agricultural businesses, including in the bio-technology area? how would these changes fit with international obligations under the WTO and other international bodies?  Given that the CAP overall accounts for roughly 40% of EU spending, there are important financial implications for any changes to EU agricultural policy.  The study should also therefore examine the financial consequences of the scenarios explored.

· Information and communication policy and 'going local'

25. In an age of ever-broadening internet communication, the enlarged European Union of 27 members faces a major challenge in communicating with citizens. A theme that has developed in recent years is the importance of communicating with citizens in a way that is readily accessible to them. This does not just mean in a language that they speak, but also in a media context that can relate European themes to the real lives and concerns of people in the region in which they live. The Commission is devoting significant resources to 'going local' and the Parliament adopted a pilot project on 'pilot information networks' in the 2007 budget that aimed to link up better national politicians, journalists and opinion-formers with the EU machinery of Brussels. This study could look at lessons from these efforts: what works? what does not? where are more resources needed? how should they be spent?

ANNEX I

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK 2007-2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(EUR million - 2004 prices)

COMMITTMENT APPROPRIATIONS

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Total
2007-2013

1.            Sustainable Growth

51 267

52 415

53 616

54 294

55 368

56 876

58 303

382 139

1a               Competitiveness for Growth and Employment

8 404

9 097

9 754

10 434

11 295

12 153

12 961

74 098

1b              Cohesion for Growth and Employment

42 863

43 318

43 862

43 860

44 073

44 723

45 342

308 041

2.            Preservation and Management of Natural Resources

54 985

54 322

53 666

53 035

52 400

51 775

51 161

371 344

               of which: market related expenditure and direct

payments

43 120

42 697

42 279

41 864

41 453

41 047

40 645

293 105

3.            Citizenship, freedom, security and justice

1 199

1 258

1 380

1 503

1 645

1 797

1 988

10 770

3a.              Freedom, Security and Justice

600

690

790

910

1 050

1 200

1 390

6 630

3b.             Citizenship

599

568

590

593

595

597

598

4 140

4.            EU as a global player

6 199

6 469

6 739

7 009

7 339

7 679

8 029

49 463

5.            Administration(1)

6 633

6 818

6 973

7 111

7 255

7 400

7 610

49 800

6.            Compensations

419

191

190

 

 

 

 

800

TOTAL COMMITTMENT APPROPRIATIONS

120 702

121 473

122 564

122 952

124 007

125 527

127 091

864 316

as a percentage of GNI

1,10%

1,08%

1,07%

1,04%

1,03%

1,02%

1,01%

1,048%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL PAYMENT APPROPRIATIONS

116 650

119 620

111 990

118 280

115 860

119 410

118 970

820 780

as a percentage of GNI

1,06%

1,06%

0,97%

1,00%

0,96%

0,97%

0,94%

1,00%

Margin available

0,18%

0,18%

0,27%

0,24%

0,28%

0,27%

0,30%

0,24%

Own Resources Ceiling as a percentage of GNI

1,24%

1,24%

1,24%

1,24%

1,24%

1,24%

1,24%

1,24%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)       The expenditure on pensions included under the ceiling for this heading is calculated net of the staff contributions to the relevant scheme, within the limit of EUR 500 million at 2004 prices for the period 2007-2013.

2007 Budgetary Procedure

Parliament's Second Reading - 14 December 2006

Multi-annual Financial Framework - Margins

Cat.

2007 MFF

Council 2nd Reading

Parliament amendments

Parliament's 2nd Reading

Margins left by EP

Commitments

Payments

Commitments

Payments

Commitments

Payments

Commitments

Payments

Commitments

Payments

1

54.405.000.000

0

54.274.887.015

44.137.342.319

80.065.000

724.708.000

54.354.952.015

44.862.050.319

50.047.985

0

1a

8.918.000.000

0

8.788.328.511

6.772.076.511

79.839.000

299.708.000

8.868.167.511

7.071.784.511

49.832.489

0

1b

45.487.000.000

0

45.486.558.504

37.365.265.808

226.000

425.000.000

45.486.784.504

37.790.265.808

215.496

0

European Gobal Adjustment Funds

(outside the MFF & margin)

500.000.000

0

 

 

500.000.000

 

 

 

2

58.351.000.000

0

56.240.800.036

54.665.465.736

9.430.000

53.080.000

56.250.230.036

54.718.545.736

2.100.769.964

0

3

1.273.000.000

0

1.149.840.000

1.049.687.652

96.606.000

127.278.000

1.246.446.000

1.176.965.652

26.554.000

0

3a

637.000.000

0

561.695.000

400.145.000

62.138.000

73.538.000

623.833.000

473.683.000

13.167.000

0

3b

636.000.000

0

588.145.000

649.542.652

34.468.000

53.740.000

622.613.000

703.282.652

13.387.000

0

4

6.578.000.000

0

6.401.214.000

7.179.921.578

176.719.000

172.825.154

6.577.933.000

7.352.746.732

67.000

0

Emergency Aid Reserve (outside the MFF & margin*) 

234.527.000

0

 

 

234.527.000

 

 

 

5

7.115.000.000

0

6.849.570.101

6.849.470.101

92.793.929

92.793.929

6.942.364.030

6.942.264.030

172.635.970

0

6

445.000.000

0

444.646.152

444.646.152

0

0

444.646.152

444.646.152

353.848

0

Total

128.167.000.000

123.866.000.000

126.095.484.304

114.326.533.538

455.613.929

1.170.685.083

126.551.098.233

115.497.218.621

2.350.428.767

8.368.781.379


OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (22.3.2007)

for the Committee on Budgets

on the Commission's annual policy strategy for the 2008 budget procedure

(2007/2017(BUD))

Draftsman:Michael Gahler

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the Committee on Budgets, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.   Insists that the 2008 budget should allow the European Union to carry forward its policies efficiently and to respect all its commitments in relations with its partners throughout the world; emphasises that the external action of the Union should have sufficient means to support actions related to regional integration processes, democratic consolidation and human rights protection in third countries;

2.   Underlines the need for sufficient financial means to maintain the Union's priorities due to the large range of challenges it is facing, whether they concern the neighbourhood policy or, more generally, external political relations with other regions of the world such as Africa, Asia or Latin America; reiterates the need to provide further support to all initiatives in third countries aimed at carrying through the necessary democratic, economic and social reforms;

3.   Recalls that support for democracy and human rights, including minority rights, are key elements of the EU foreign policy; stresses the need to provide sufficient funding in all external and enlargement instruments to reflect this priority, especially to carry on effective EU human rights dialogues with countries whose human rights records are of great concern;

4.   Stresses the importance of sustainable progress in the Western Balkans and notes that the region should be regarded as a priority in the activities of the EU;

5.   Underlines the need to provide sufficient funding for the increasing number of CFSP activities; emphasises the need for adequate funding for the actions in Kosovo and stresses that the CFSP budget for 2008 is likely to come under pressure from the significant financial effort needed to support the civilian ESDP mission and support to the functioning of the office of the International Civilian Representative; expects the Council to clarify as soon as possible the short and medium-term implications of that mission for the sustainability of the present CFSP budget and to keep Parliament adequately and regularly informed about the envisaged actions;

6.   Welcomes the decision of the Council to reduce the size of Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sign of improving and stabilising conditions in the country; notes that any plans for reduction must duly assess the security situation in the country;

7.   Stresses the importance of continuing accession negotiations on the basis of own merits and the renewed consensus on enlargement agreed at the December 2006 European Council;

8.   Welcomes the Commission's commitments to make significant progress in effectively developing the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and underlines the crucial importance of providing an adequate financial envelope for the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument aiming to promote democracy and human rights in the region;

9.   Stresses that the Eastern Dimension of the EU Neighbourhood Policy should be funded more adequately, and that increased funding and more emphasis should be put on improving the relations in particular with Ukraine and Moldova;

10. Considers that with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, there is an increasing need to put more emphasis on EU-Black Sea Cooperation; further notes that it would be necessary to develop a complex approach to and adequate EU funding tools for the joint economic, transport and environmental development of the Black Sea and the Danube region;

11. Requests that the 2008 budget take into account the urgent need for economic survival and reconstruction across the Middle East, particularly in Palestine and Lebanon, and if the conditions permit, in Iraq;

12. Is of the view that the EU should start translating its previous general statements of principle regarding its role in the political and economic reconstruction of Iraq into concrete actions, whereby one feasible option would be starting to channel an active development cooperation policy targeting the entire country and inter-Iraqi co-operation, taking advantage of the democratic achievements and the favourable security situation in parts of the country; is convinced that such an approach would set a positive example for the entire country and beyond and would do much to improve the visibility of EU assistance which so far is non-existent;

13. Reiterates the EU's commitment to keeping Afghanistan high on the political agenda; stresses the importance of adequate funding in view of the country's continuing reconstruction needs, which are directly linked to improving its security situation; emphasises the particular need to support the development and consolidation of strong state institutions, the economic, social and cultural development of the country, the disarmament of private militias, and the fight against the cultivation of and trade with drugs; asks to be properly informed about all aspects of the EU's commitment to Afghanistan including the planned ESDP mission;

14. Welcomes the Commission's commitment to reinforce the EU's relations with Africa; emphasises in particular the need for support for the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament as the institutions enhancing African ownership of the process of finding solutions to the problems of the continent; reiterates the need for support for the African Standby Force in its operations on the continent, in particular in Sudan; stresses however the importance of strengthening in parallel the administrative capacities of the sub-regional organisations, which are necessary actors in prevention and resolution of local and regional conflicts; reiterates its support for the Africa Peer Review Mechanism, which plays an important role in initiating the process of political reforms, and emphasises the need to strengthen its administrative capacities;

15. Welcomes the Commission's commitment to reinforce cooperation with major producer, transit and consumer countries in energy related matters; emphasises that sustainable, secure and competitive energy across the Union can only be ensured by gradually building a common external energy policy that actively pursues Europe's interests;

16. Welcomes the fact that the German Presidency, Parliament and Council are starting to develop a mutually fruitful dialogue on the CFSP priorities; expects in this regard full implementation of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(1), which provides for joint consultation meetings at least five times a year and a forward-looking Council document, to be transmitted by June 15 each year, setting out the main aspects and basic choices of the CFSP;

17. Given that Parliament needs to be informed prior to committing funds and deciding missions, reiterates the need for transparency and complete information prior to decisions on missions;

18. Demands to be informed on aspects of military funding, especially the Athena mechanism;

19. Looks forward to meaningful cooperation with the Commission in the framework of working groups established to monitor the programming and implementation of the new external assistance instruments; notes the envisaged mid-term review of the functioning of those instruments; reiterates Parliament's will to be fully involved in this process.

PROCEDURE

Title

The Commission's annual policy strategy for the 2008 budget procedure

References

2007/2017(BUD)

Committee responsible

BUDG

Opinion by
  Date announced in plenary

AFET

Enhanced cooperation – date announced in plenary

 

Draftsperson
  Date appointed

Michael Gahler
27.2.2007

Previous draftsperson

 

Discussed in committee

12.3.2007

20.3.2007

 

 

 

Date adopted

21.3.2007

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

49

4

4

Members present for the final vote

Vittorio Agnoletto, Roberta Alma Anastase, Robert Atkins, Panagiotis Beglitis, Monika Beňová, André Brie, Elmar Brok, Simon Coveney, Véronique De Keyser, Hanna Foltyn-Kubicka, Michael Gahler, Maciej Marian Giertych, Alfred Gomolka, Richard Howitt, Anna Ibrisagic, Bogdan Klich, Helmut Kuhne, Vytautas Landsbergis, Eugen Mihăescu, Philippe Morillon, Pasqualina Napoletano, Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Raimon Obiols i Germà, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Alojz Peterle, Tobias Pflüger, Mirosław Mariusz Piotrowski, Hubert Pirker, Michel Rocard, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Libor Rouček, José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Marek Siwiec, István Szent-Iványi, Charles Tannock, Inese Vaidere, Geoffrey Van Orden, Ari Vatanen, Kristian Vigenin, Jan Marinus Wiersma

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Giulietto Chiesa, Alexandra Dobolyi, Carlo Fatuzzo, David Hammerstein Mintz, Tunne Kelam, Doris Pack, Inger Segelström, Adrian Severin, Jean Spautz, Csaba Sándor Tabajdi, Marcello Vernola

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

David Martin, Ria Oomen-Ruijten

Comments (available in one language only)

 

(1)

OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.


OPINION of the Committee on International Trade (27.3.2007)

for the Committee on Budgets

on the Commission's annual strategy for the 2008 budget procedure

(2007/2017(BUD))

Draftsman: Peter Šťastný

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on International Trade calls on the Committee on Budgets, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.   Stresses that the Annual Policy Strategy for 2008 clearly reflects the breadth and depth of the challenges to trade facing the EU which, on top of the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round as an overriding priority, include developing, negotiating and eventually implementing closer economic ties and agreements in an increasing number of areas such as services, investment or Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) with an increasing number of partners around the world - including the ACP countries, the Ukraine, Korea, China, India, ASEAN, Mercosur, Central America, the Andean Community - and new Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) with Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova;

2.   Stresses, in that context, the need for the Parliament to be meaningfully involved in the process of negotiating and adopting bilateral and regional trade agreements; calls on the Commission to provide Parliament's competent committee with a regular update on the state of play of the negotiations and to submit the outcome of those negotiations for Parliament's approval;

3.   Stresses, therefore, that the Preliminary Draft Budget (PDB) should provide the Commission with sufficient budgetary and human resources in order to adequately meet the increasing number of trade-related challenges and to enable it to deliver results pursuant to the strategic objectives defined in the Commission's Global Europe Agenda of 2007, particularly in the area of bilateral economic and trade relations; invites the Commission, in that regard, to inform Parliament, prior to the presentation of the PDB, on the number and on the nature of the staff actually working on trade issues in the Commission's delegations in third countries, together with an assessment of their capabilities and the resources available to those delegations to deal with the growing challenges of trade policy, particularly in developing countries and emerging economies;

4.   Notes that the legislative proposals that are to be brought forward by the Commission in 2008, further to the Single Market Review of 2007, in order to allow citizens and companies, in particular SMEs, to benefit fully from the internal market should specifically address the external commercial dimension of the new initiatives;

5.   Notes the commitment that a substantial share of the EU's and Member States’ pledge to increase their trade-related assistance to EUR 2 billion by 2010 will be devoted to the ACP countries; notes with concern, however, that only the Member States' collective contribution is meant to be additional to the European Development Fund resources; urges the Council and the Commission to clarify the magnitude and budgetary nature of that commitment as soon as possible and well in advance of the conclusion of the European Partnership Agreement negotiations;

6.   Calls on the Commission to clarify what sums of money are needed for the funding of horizontal trade-related assistance initiatives, including bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives such as the Integrated Framework (IF);

7.   Reiterates its request that the Commission put in place a regular reporting system on Trade Related Assistance (TRA)/Aid for Trade programming and spending whereby Parliament is to be informed on the measures that have been financed, and, where appropriate, on the results of monitoring and evaluation exercises, on the involvement of the relevant partners, and on the implementation of the pledges and budget commitments and on payments, such information being shown in a breakdown by country, region, and category of assistance respectively;

8.   Notes with concern that its Committee on International Trade has not yet received specific written information concerning the objectives, strategies and trade and economic related elements of the future agreements with third countries such as the EU-China framework agreement, the new Enhanced Agreement with the Ukraine, the trade agreements with Central America and the Andean Community or the new PCAs with Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova;

9.   Calls for adequate funding to be earmarked for the purpose of drawing up Sustainability Impact Assessments of all proposed trade agreements as soon as possible and, in any event, well in advance of the conclusion of the negotiations;

10. Stresses that Parliament should be consulted on Macrofinancial Assistance (MFA) proposals in sufficiently good time in order to allow it to express its views and adopt its opinion according to a normal calendar and procedure; requests the Commission, in that regard, to inform Parliament on MFA programming and the expected timetable for the Commission's MFA-related proposals;

11. Welcomes the Commission’s decision to give high priority to energy policy and the fight against climate change, but considers it essential that external trade policy be devised in a manner that supports those objectives.

PROCEDURE

Title

The Commission's annual strategy for the 2008 budget procedure

Procedure number

2007/2017(BUD)

Committee responsible

BUDG

Opinion by
  Date announced in plenary

INTA

Enhanced cooperation – date announced in plenary

 

Draftsman
  Date appointed

Peter Šťastný
28.2.2007

Previous drafts(wo)man

 

Discussed in committee

27.2.2007

 

 

 

 

Date adopted

21.3.2007

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

4

0

Members present for the final vote

Kader Arif, Graham Booth, Carlos Carnero González, Christofer Fjellner, Béla Glattfelder, Eduard Raul Hellvig, Jacky Henin, Syed Kamall, Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Caroline Lucas, Marusya Ivanova Lyubcheva, Erika Mann, David Martin, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, Tokia Saïfi, Peter Šťastný, Daniel Varela Suanzes-Carpegna, Zbigniew Zaleski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Panagiotis Beglitis, Danutė Budreikaitė, Elisa Ferreira, Małgorzata Handzlik, Jens Holm, Sepp Kusstatscher, Eugenijus Maldeikis, Zuzana Roithová, Corien Wortmann-Kool

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Comments (available in one language only)

 

ANNEX

Trilogue 7 March 2007

Conclusions

The trilogue meeting was organised in application of point 47 of the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) on budget discipline and sound financial management of 17 May 2006.

These conclusions are meant to take stock of the agreement reached by the three institutions.

1.        Joint Undertaking for ITER

The European Parliament and Council agreed that:

· the ITER Joint Undertaking is to be considered as a Community agency for the purpose of the application of point 47 of the IIA;

· the European Parliament will be given responsibility for the discharge of the implementation of the budget of ITER Joint Undertaking

The European Parliament and Council acknowledged the Community contribution to ITER stemming from the 7th Framework Programme for Euratom (€ 986 million(1) for the period 2007-2011 as a maximum) as proposed by the Commission. While noting that the ITER project is planned to continue well beyond 2011, and the need to continue till 2041, the corresponding amounts for the years 2012 and 2013 are foreseen in the financial programming. The future financing will be part of the discussions on the next financial framework.

2.        Agencies

With the aim of optimizing the functioning of existing agencies and the procedures applicable to the creation of new agencies, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agree to pursue an in depth discussion, in particular regarding a thorough cost/benefit assessment, including administrative costs, before the setting up of new agencies and the implementation of the review clauses foreseen in the specific regulations of the existing ones.

In this context, they express their willingness to work towards continuing and deepening the discussion on the further development of the procedure foreseen by Point 47 of the IIA.

These discussions will be pursued during the forthcoming Trilogues, the first being on 18 April 2007.

________________________

PROCEDURE

Title

The Commission’s annual policy strategy for the 2008 budget procedure

Procedure number

2007/2017(BUD

Committee responsible

BUDG

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)  Date announced in plenary

All

 

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)  Date appointed

Kyösti Virrankoski13.12.2006

Previous rapporteur(s)

James Elles

Date of decision to draw up report

 

Discussed in committee

26.2.2007

21.3.2007

29.3.2007

 

 

Date adopted

29.3.2007

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

32

3

Members present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Richard James Ashworth, Reimer Böge, Simon Busuttil, Joan Calabuig Rull, Paulo Casaca, Gérard Deprez, Salvador Garriga Polledo, Neena Gill, Ingeborg Gräßle, Louis Grech, Nathalie Griesbeck, Catherine Guy-Quint, Monica Maria Iacob-Ridzi, Anne E. Jensen, Sergej Kozlík, Wiesław Stefan Kuc, Janusz Lewandowski, Nils Lundgren, Vladimír Maňka, Esko Seppänen, Nina Škottová, László Surján, Kyösti Virrankoski, Ralf Walter

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Thijs Berman, Hans-Peter Martin, José Javier Pomés Ruiz, Paul Rübig, José Albino Silva Peneda, Margarita Starkevičiūtė, Peter Šťastný

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Toomas Savi, Grażyna Staniszewska

Date tabled

3.4.2007

Comments (available in one language only)

...

(1)

out of an indicative total EU budget contribution to the Joint Undertaking for ITER and the development of fusion energy of EUR 1 290 million

Last updated: 13 April 2007Legal notice