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Debates
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Draft general budget 2009 as modified by the Council (all sections) (debate)
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  Jutta Haug, rapporteur. – (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, it seems the President-in-Office of the Council is not quite here yet. In any event, the second reading of the European budget is on tomorrow’s agenda. In all probability, the vote will not take much time. The fact that few things remain to be put to the vote and even fewer are in dispute is thanks to the constructive cooperation among all the Members involved – both in the specialist committees and in the Committee on Budgets – for which I should like to express my sincere thanks. I am all the more pleased since I know that this cannot be taken for granted. This also goes for the groundwork done by the entire team on the Committee on Budgets, the work of all the group staff and the support of the personal assistants, so thank you!

I should also like to extend my thanks to the Commission for its willingness to cooperate. Its communications with us may not always have pleased everyone concerned, but it was always helpful and, above all, it spoke to me at the various levels, which cannot be said of the Council Presidency. Thus far, the French Council Presidency has not managed to speak to me, the general rapporteur, on a single occasion. Not one single time! I have not even received a response as yet to a letter I wrote before the trialogue on 13 November – which is very strange, very disconcerting.

What was not at all strange or disconcerting, however, was how the Council team behaved at the conciliation meeting. Its behaviour and attitudes were what we have come to expect. Firstly, there must be no revision, however small, under any circumstances. Secondly, the payments are to be reduced in any event, even if the gap between payments and commitments becomes a ravine. Thirdly, the unspent appropriations from the current financial year should preferably be handed over immediately. In any case, approximately EUR 4.9 billion will be channelled back to the coffers of the national Finance Ministers. We in Parliament are delighted to have been able to persuade the Commission to promise a carry-over of EUR 700 million for rural development. We also think that the binding joint declarations on simplifying the procedure and on accelerating the implementation of the Structural Funds programmes, and also the promise that more funds for payments would be proposed without delay if need be, will be helpful in managing the tasks of the coming financial year.

These tasks will be not exactly trivial. The impact of the financial market crisis and its repercussions on the real economy will be felt in all our Member States. Therefore, Parliament is, by all means, prepared to free up funds for job creation or preservation, funds for providing economic momentum – in addition to the range of instruments already at the disposal of the European Union. We are prepared to do everything necessary at the maximum speed possible – not indiscriminately, of course, but if it is clear what projects the funds are to be provided for and how appropriate they are, not one of us will be left in the lurch.

Parliament is also prepared for a revision of the medium-term financial programme. First of all, however, the Council needs a common position.

We may be voting at second reading tomorrow, but I have the vague feeling that what we are voting on is just a budgetary framework. The additions to it will be demanded of us little by little over the year.

 
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