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Procedure : 2005/2001(BUD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0309/2005

Texts tabled :

A6-0309/2005

Debates :

PV 26/10/2005 - 2

Votes :

PV 27/10/2005 - 5.2

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2005)0409

Texts adopted
PDF 229kWORD 63k
Thursday, 27 October 2005 - Strasbourg
Draft general budget for 2006 (Section III)
P6_TA(2005)0409A6-0309/2005

European Parliament resolution on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2006, Section III - Commission (C6-0299/2005 – 2005/2001(BUD))

The European Parliament,

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

–   having regard to Council Decision 2000/597/EC, Euratom of 29 September 2000 on the system of the European Communities' own resources(1),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(2),

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and improvement of the budgetary procedure(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 April 2005 on the Commission's Annual Policy Strategy report (APS)(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2005 on the mandate for the 2006 budget conciliation procedure before the Council's first reading(5),

–   having regard to the preliminary draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2006, which the Commission presented on 27 April 2005 (COM(2005)0300),

–   having regard to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2006, which the Council established on 15 July 2005 (C6-0299/2005),

–   having regard to Rule 69 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A6-0309/2005),

General considerations and priorities

1.  Reiterates its commitment to meeting the key political objectives for 2006 as well as building a credible bridge into the new financial perspective; regrets, in this respect, the across-the-board reductions in the Council's Draft Budget which are made without any individual consideration;

2.  Has decided to increase budgetary commitments, in particular for the Lisbon and Göteborg strategy, for information policy and for external actions, in order to safeguard important EU actions in line with its previous resolutions on the 2006 budget and which will make a difference for EU citizens; urges the Council to cooperate fully with the Parliament to reach a satisfactory solution, including the utilisation of measures envisaged within the framework of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999;

3.  Takes the same view as regards payment appropriations and considers the Council's adopted level of EUR 111,4 billion (1,01 % of GNI) as inadequate for the effective implementation of policies already agreed and necessary new actions; has therefore decided to increase payments across the budget to a level of EUR 115,4 billion (1,04 % of GNI); stresses that this is still in line with budgetary rigour relative to the economic problems facing certain Member States;

4.  Insists that the EU budget should contribute to more effective actions for the benefit of Europe's citizens, first of all an improved Lisbon agenda focusing on employment, social, economic and environmental cohesion and Europe's competitiveness; states that the involvement of young people is crucial for any sensible European strategy and shares the Council's political ambitions of a youth pact; disagrees fundamentally with budgetary reductions in this area and has decided to step up the focus on the Lisbon agenda including an increase in co-decided financial frameworks for Socrates and Youth, Research, Life and Intelligent Energy; urges the Council to agree a reinforcement of these priorities, as was done at the end of the last programming period;

Heading 1

5.  Warmly welcomes the revision of the sub-ceilings of heading 1 in order to make possible the modulation measures related to CAP reform agreed between Parliament and Council at the conciliation of 15 July 2005;

6.  Recalls its position that the amounts suggested by the Commission in its budgetary proposal should be considered the minimum necessary and has therefore decided to reject the Council's reductions; believes that these appropriations are necessary while fully supporting ongoing reform measures in the sector;

7.  Stresses the importance of innovation and renewal within the reformed agricultural policy of the EU, especially in the field of training and measures for young farmers;

8.  Wishes to follow up on the use of budgetary amounts in sub-heading 1b (rural development) and in particular measures intended to enhance environmental protection and the sustainable development of rural areas and measures which are co-financed by the Structural Funds in the area of the prevention of and the fight against desertification and destruction by fire of rural and natural habitats, sadly demonstrated over the past years as a major EU challenge; calls on the Commission to make available an overview of the use of rural development funds in this area; draws attention to the importance of aid and solidarity under heading 1, including through the provision to specific organisations of food from intervention stocks for distribution to the most disadvantaged groups within the Community;

Heading 2

9.  Takes note of recent payment forecasts for structural actions and of information from the Commission in line with the Joint Declaration agreed in the 2005 procedure; also notes the large gap between the Member States' payments forecasts and the Commission's PDB; therefore decides to increase payment appropriations to a level of EUR 39,2 billion; is at the same time worried at the general take-up rates for the most recent Member States and therefore wishes to explore whether there could be a need for a bridging solution between the current programming period and the next one so as to be sure that they are not jeopardised;

10.  Insists that the PEACE programme for Northern Ireland continue to receive support but recalls that the amount to be re-deployed from "innovative measures" was jointly agreed between the Parliament and the Council, in the presence of the Commission, at the budget conciliation of 25 November 2004; has therefore decided to reinstate this level and invites the Council to agree a solution, within the framework of all means envisaged in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999, to solve the financing of the remaining EUR 12 million for PEACE;

Heading 3

11.  Rejects the Council's attitude of indiscriminate reductions which runs contrary to pressing political priorities, most especially the need to match the ambitions for the renewed Lisbon strategy with something more than what is already available in 2005;

12.  Considers that the 2006 budget is a bridge to a new programming period and should therefore reflect its transitional character and anticipate the envisaged higher funding from 2007 onwards for the key policy areas; decides, therefore, to reinforce a set of important budget lines concerning research and innovation, SMEs, competitiveness, Socrates, Youth, development of the internal market, Life, Intelligent Energy and the Leonardo da Vinci programme; moreover, is willing to agree with the Council on sufficient funding to finance priorities under objective and enduring circumstances, through the use of provisions of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999, in particular points 33 and 34 thereof, or through the application of Article 272 TEC;

13.  Wishes to see a greater focus on simplification of procedures at the level of EU programmes for the benefit of people and organisations that receive EU funding; has therefore voted a set of simplification amendments that are in line with the work currently underway to adjust the Financial Regulation, but asks for quicker progress based on the simplification of internal procedures;

14.  Considers that the amounts envisaged for the EU Information Policy are inadequate and has decided to increase them; emphasises the urgent need for the Commission to bring forward its White Paper on Information Policy; in the meantime decides to enter part of the appropriations in reserve;

15.  Fully endorses the importance and ambitions of the new action for "Workers' mobility" which was proposed as a pilot project; proposes, however, to finance this action as a special annual event under the Commission's own institutional prerogatives; at the same time, reminds the Commission to effectively implement all pilot projects that have been promoted by the Parliament;

16.  Expects that the amounts set aside for the European Year of Workers' Mobility will be spent on decentralised campaigns close to the citizens and that the visibility and the services of existing tools, such as EURES and EUROPASS, will be extended, and their coverage increased to include migrants from third countries, since, given the ageing population, more sustained immigration flows will increasingly be required to meet the needs of the EU labour market;

17.  Highlights the importance of third-pillar data protection matters and supports the formalisation of an ad-hoc structure involving representatives of Member States' data protection authorities and other bodies corresponding to the specific problems to be addressed;

Heading 4

18.  Confirms its conviction that the external actions of the EU have taken on new responsibilities and have been added to over the past five years without any parallel adjustment of the necessary financial resources; highlights, in this respect, commitments for funding in Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, increasing ambitions in the field of CFSP and, most recently, a solidarity pledge with the victims of the tsunami disaster;

19.  Is determined that the Council must see reason and agree to finance new priorities without jeopardising important ongoing actions; has decided, therefore, to reject the Council's approach of reductions in human rights and democracy lines, geographical cooperation programmes, including the neighbourhood policy, and actions important for the Millennium Development Goals; has decided to enter appropriations at a level which safeguards such policies while making room for new ones; has decided, for the reasons above, to finance the reconstruction programmes in Iraq and in countries affected by the tsunami as well as to provide support for sugar protocol countries outside the existing margin; invites the Council to agree a financing solution within the framework of all means envisaged in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999, in particular points 19 and 24 thereof, or through the relevant Treaty provisions;

20.  Insists that the Commission and the Council continue to support the European initiative for democracy and human rights and decides to provide a sufficient level of funding; reiterates its call on the Commission to present a proposal for a separate legal instrument for Human Rights for the programming period 2007-2013; furthermore, stresses that Parliament's involvement in the setting of priorities for implementation of the new programmes for the period 2007-2013 (comitology arrangements) must be significantly improved;

21.  Recalls its recommendation to the Council of 24 September 2003 on the situation in Iraq(6) and its resolution of 6 July 2005 on "The European Union and Iraq – A Framework for Engagement"(7), which request that EC funds for reconstruction in Iraq be managed by the UN; criticises the Commission for accepting that a considerable share of the Community contribution be managed by the World Bank; notes that appropriations granted under the 2004 and 2005 budgets have only marginally been absorbed by the Bank and on this basis takes the view that no further funding will be required by the Bank during 2006; reminds the Commission that the World Bank relies on the Iraqi authorities for the implementation of its programmes; points out in this respect the weak administrative structure and repeated instances of corruption in Iraq; requests therefore that no further funding be channelled to the World Bank and that other European intermediaries be considered for the disbursement of these funds; calls on the Commission to carry out during 2006 an independent audit on the use of EC funds by the UN and the World Bank;

22.  Reiterates that the Commission should make every effort to reach the benchmarks set by Parliament within the total annual commitments for development cooperation of 35% for social infrastructure and 20% for basic health and basic education; enters a share of 10% of a number of geographical lines in reserve so as to encourage the Commission to take the necessary steps to reach the 20% benchmark for basic health and basic education;

23.  Rejects the Council's increase for two additional Special Representatives in the field of CFSP without the requisite consultation of the European Parliament; notes that on the basis of the joint declaration of 25 November 2002, the Irish and Dutch presidencies have achieved substantial progress in establishing a political information and consultation circle with Parliament; deplores the fact that, although such meetings should take place about five times throughout a year, only one meeting has taken place this year (until September 2005); therefore, insists that this political dialogue continue as agreed between both institutions and be qualitatively improved;

24.  Stresses the importance of private-sector contributions to the fight against poverty and calls on the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to jointly investigate the possibility of granting interest subsidies for EIB own resources loans to the SME sector in developing countries;

25.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that Community assistance in heading 4 is not given to any government or organisation or programme which supports or participates in the management of a programme which involves human rights abuses, such as coercive abortion or involuntary sterilisation or infanticide since this implements the specific Cairo ICPD prohibition on coercion or compulsion in sexual and reproductive health matters;

26.  Believes that the new "aid for trade" budget line is necessary in order to:

   i) improve transparency and thereby democratic control over a large budget;
   ii) provide trade-related assistance with more visibility; and
   iii) facilitate more flexibility in mobilising funds quickly and through multilateral initiatives as appropriate;

Heading 5

27.  Is aware of the Commission's declarations as concerns the recruitment of officials from the new Member States and considers this a just priority; feels that the Council's across-the-board cuts are unacceptable and decides to reinstate for the Commission at first reading an amount of EUR 90,4 million out of the Council's EUR 94,4 million cut; decides to enter an amount of EUR 16 million of salary appropriations in reserve for the reasons set out below;

28.  Has decided to provide for the full number of posts requested by the Commission and will release the posts from the reserve once the Commission has:

   - clarified the situation relating to recruitment and the possibility of filling enlargement posts;
   - provided a complete review of all outstanding regulations proposed (including those of the 2005 legislative and work programme) to ensure that all existing and planned legislative proposals from the Commission meet inter alia the criteria of subsidiarity and reducing bureaucracy and implementation costs; requests this analysis by November 2005;
   - concluded an agreement with Parliament on the 2006 legislative and work programme;
   - provided details of multi-annual programming for all legislative proposals over the next financial framework;
   - committed itself clearly to respect the joint statement on financial programming, agreed during the conciliation of 13 July 2004, and to submit the relevant information and data to the Parliament;
   - committed itself, before second reading, to present a proposal to set up a staff policy, career profile and best practices for the Agencies;
   - presented its White Paper on its future information and communication strategy;
   - submitted the proposal on the revision of the implementing rules of the Financial Regulation by 31 October 2005; and
   - presented a separate instrument for human rights, as requested by the Parliament in its resolution of 8 June 2005 on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the Enlarged Union 2007-2013(8);

29.  Calls on the Commission to examine possibilities for savings before second reading, including a critical review of its budget requests;

Heading 7

30.  Insists on greater budgetary transparency in relation to Community assistance to candidate or pre-candidate countries; recalls that this is crucial with a view to the entry into force of the new pre-accession instrument, which will consolidate into one single act a variety of geographical and thematic programmes;

Horizontal issues
Agencies

31.  Believes that the Agencies need to be treated on an individual basis and that their estimates and the changes advocated by the Commission need to be taken into account by the budgetary authority; has therefore decided generally to reinstate the level of the PDB with particular funding needs being entered on a case-by-case basis after the necessary justifications; asks the Commission to bring forward the planned career structure and other information demanded;

Subsidies

32.  Recalls that the former A-30 lines are covered by basic legal acts and restricted financial frameworks that expire in 2006; stresses therefore the extremely limited margin for manoeuvre in this sector; highlights the importance of town-twinning and has decided to maintain appropriations at the 2005 level; further notes that the principle of tendering will come fully into force for all programmes in 2006 and that earmarking is no longer possible; calls on the Commission to propose any necessary bridging solution to avoid gaps in funding for beneficiaries that might occur between the two systems;

33.  Notes that there are a number of successful cultural organisations such as European Union Youth Orchestra, the European Union Baroque Orchestra, the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, etc., which the European Parliament has supported through grants over many years; stresses that it is expected that these organisations will continue their activities in the context of a new multiannual financial framework as from 2007 onwards; notes with concern that there is a real danger that these organisations will not be able to continue their activities in 2006 without the provisions of transitional aid to ensure a bridge between the two financial planning periods; therefore, is willing to agree with the Council on sufficient funding to finance these priority actions under such objective and enduring circumstances, through the use of the provision of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999 in particular points 33 and 34 thereof, or through the application of Article 272 TEC;

Pilot Projects, Preparatory Actions and Studies

34.  Welcomes the improvement in cooperation with the Commission on pilot projects, preparatory actions and studies, while regretting that a limited number of projects are still suffering from implementation difficulties;

35.  Has decided to create a number of important new initiatives in line with its priorities, including: cross-border cooperation in the fight against natural disasters, which would raise awareness of the need for closer cooperation on civil protection measures in order to prevent or at least minimise the consequences of such disasters, individual mobility actions for upper secondary pupils, a pilot project on security along the Trans-European network, mobility actions for young entrepreneurs to support exchanges at a European level, European Destinations of Excellence, and preparatory actions for an internet-based system for better legislation and for public participation, and for Natura 2000;

Activity Based Budgeting

36.  Recalls that, following last year's review by Parliament of the 2005 activity statements, the Commission was invited to improve the quality of the information in its statements for the 2006 budgetary procedure; notes that, although some progress has been made, further improvements are required to increase the budgetary relevance of the information, especially in the area of objectives and indicators; notes that activity statements should provide a useful working tool for the committees of Parliament and be used more extensively; invites, therefore, the Commission to renew its efforts in view of providing improved and more relevant activity statements for the next budgetary procedure;

37.  Stresses that the Commission must ensure that gender equality is taken into account in the implementation of the budget and that any action should be evaluated from the perspective of the difference of its impact as between men and women;

o
o   o

38.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, together with the amendments and proposed modifications to Section III of the draft general budget, to the Council, the Commission and the other institutions and bodies concerned.

(1) OJ L 253, 7.10.2000, p. 42.
(2) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p.1.
(3) OJ C 172, 18.6.1999, p. 1. Agreement as amended by Decision 2003/429/EC (OJ L 147, 14.6.2003, p. 25).
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0126.
(5) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0286.
(6) OJ C 77 E, 26.3.2004, p. 226.
(7) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0288.
(8) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0224.

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