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Brussels, 4 February 2013
Vice-President Šefčovič cautiously optimistic on MFF talks; urges Member States not to break the European engine
As today's General Affairs Council (GAC) added the finishing touches to preparations for this week's European Council, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said he was 'cautiously optimistic' about talks on the Multiannual Financial Framework.
He told Foreign and European Ministers gathered for the GAC that everybody needed to work hard, as a successful deal would send a positive signal for the European economy, and help to restore confidence. It would also offer hope to Europe's regions and the unemployed, particularly the young unemployed.
But he also stressed the need for overall balance, as important negotiations would have to follow with the European Parliament, which has made clear it will reject an unbalanced decision. Speaking to journalists later, he said: "This balance must also apply to administrative expenditure, and I urge Member States not to get carried away and break the European engine. The Commission has already made €8 billion in administration cuts, has proposed another €1 billion in cuts, and President Van Rompuy has proposed another €0.5 billion of cuts on top of that. Our proposals include cutting 2,500 jobs in the coming five years, which is more than the entire staff of the Court of Justice!"
The GAC also discussed trade, and Vice-President Šefčovič pointed out that the Commission's bilateral trade agenda could bring an extra 2% of growth and more than 2 million jobs.