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 Full text 
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

General budget of the European Union for 2018 - all sections (debate)

  Richard Ashworth, rapporteur. – Mr President, I want to put on record my thanks to my co-rapporteur Siegfried Mureşan, and I want to compliment him on his very sensible approach and the excellent work that he has done. I also want to record my thanks to the shadow rapporteurs for their continued support throughout the process.

Members will recall that, in April this year, this House agreed to increase the European Parliament budget for next year by 2.3%. Bearing in mind the effect of inflation and the cyclical cost of preparations for the 2019 elections, I thought 2.3% was reasonable and responsible. It has therefore been my intention that an increase of 2.3% be taken as the benchmark against which all other institutions would be measured, and the level be the target for the overall budget increase. I was particularly pleased to note that the Council followed our lead when they too set their budget at an increase of just below 2.3%.

However, it has not been possible or indeed desirable to peg all individual institution budgets at that level. I have had to take into account a number of exceptional cost demands for 2018. First, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors. Both have significantly increased workloads, as well as a number of significant security issues which will have to be addressed. Second, the Data Protection Supervisor. He has been tasked with a new role for which we will have to make provision. Thirdly, the question of strategic communications. I am aware that many in this House consider this to be a key priority, and I know that this view is shared by a number of the Member States. So, to meet that expectation, we shall have to oppose the cuts which are currently proposed by Council when it comes to the coming negotiations.

Finally, the EU Special Representative. Both Parliament and the EEAS have been pressing for some time to transfer the cost of special representatives over to the EEAS budget. Clearly, this would be budget-neutral, and so in our proposals Parliament has indicated that it is willing to make provision to cover this transfer in the 2018 budget.

I recommend to Parliament that these cost increases are both reasonable and justifiable, but I would, however, wish to remind Members of the importance of exercising fiscal discipline in order to keep public expenditure under control. To that end, I have identified a number of areas where cost savings could be made. Specifically, I would give the example that I propose a freeze on the budgets of the Committee of Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, and while I am grateful to those groups who have supported this initiative, I am disappointed that the larger groups were not prepared to do so.

Colleagues, in voting on this budget and resolution, this House will set the mandate for the forthcoming negotiation with the Council. I look forward to that negotiation and I look forward to reporting a favourable outcome in November.

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