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European Commission

Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ

Vice-President of the European Commission

Responsible for Interinstitutional Relations and Administration

Joint debate on Multiannual financial framework 2014-2020

Joint debate on Multiannual financial framework 2014-2020

Strasbourg,23 October 2012

Dear members,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the European Parliament's interim report on the next financial framework. This is possibly the most important file being negotiated under the current Commission, as the outcome will determine whether the Union is able to deliver the Europe 2020 strategy, fund the common policies of the Union and play its role on the international stage.

We are all aware of the fact that this is the first multiannual financial framework to be adopted under the new treaty provisions. I have fully supported the Parliament's will to exercise its rights fully. This has been well understood in the Council, where both the Danish and the Cyprus presidencies have made strong efforts to keep the Parliament informed of progress on the preparation of the negotiating box. I have particularly appreciated the opportunities given to representatives of the European Parliament to make their views known informally to Member States, most recently last week in Luxembourg before the meeting of the General Affairs Council, the Council formation dealing with MFF and preparing the work of the European Council.

As you may know, in this framework I represent the Commission - and, together with Janusz Lewandowski - we defend the Commission position on the MFF [and forcefully advocated the active involvement of the European Parliament].

With this in mind, the Commission very much welcomes the European Parliament's interim report as an essential input into the on-going negotiation process. It is crucial that the views of the European Parliament be made clear at this stage, just one month before the special European Council on the financial framework.

The Commission has examined the content of the report in detail. We welcome the point of departure that the EU budget is an investment budget and a key tool to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the entire EU. We must keep repeating this message, particularly as the European Council itself has recognised the catalysing role of the EU budget when it adopted the compact for growth and jobs in June.

I will not comment on all the issues raised in the report but I would like to say a few words on some of the more horizontal points, before handing over to my colleague Janusz Lewandowski.

The report considers that the Commission proposal will not be sufficient to finance existing policy priorities, new tasks foreseen by the Treaty of Lisbon, unforeseen events and political objectives and commitments set by the European Council itself. I would respond by pointing out that, by proposing a stabilised budget for cohesion and the Common Agricultural Policy within an overall amount based on the 2013 ceilings, the Commission's proposal allows for noticeable increases for priorities linked to the Europe 2020 strategy (research, education, mobility, infrastructure networks) and the new tasks stemming from the Lisbon Treaty.

The Commission remains convinced that its proposal represents a balanced approach. We believe the 1.08% GNI figure that we have put forward represents a credible budget that matches our ambition while also reflecting the current economic situation. Doing less was not an option, because Europe faces challenges that must be addressed at EU level.

I welcome the Parliament's support for a number of the elements linked to improved quality of spending of the EU budget, including the use of innovative financial instruments and the introduction of ex ante conditionalities. The Commission is making every effort to make sure that EU funds will undergo a qualitative leap in terms of European added value, efficiency, effectiveness and simplification of delivery, while at the same time maintaining the highest standards in terms of sound financial management. We need to ensure that a consistent approach is followed across the range of sectoral legislative proposals.

On the issue of the application of macroeconomic conditionality to the funds under the Common Strategic Framework (CSF), I take note of the report's opposition to the Commission's proposals. I would like to underline that the Commission's proposals have been conceived not as coercive measures but rather to incentivise structural reforms and thus optimise effectiveness and absorption capacity. They are not meant to penalise Member States or regions that need financial support the most urgently, but rather to ensure that precious capital will actually help address the very deficiencies identified in country-specific recommendations. This is essentially a preventive approach that will safeguard the legitimacy of cohesion spending in times of severe budgetary restraints.

On the specific points raised in the report on administrative expenditure, I confirm that the 5% staff reduction over a period of 5 years is a major effort in the face of the crisis; an effort to which all EU institutions, bodies and agencies should contribute.

Finally, let me reiterate the absolute need to reach agreement by the end of this year. It is in the interest of all of us not to let the discussions drag on beyond December. A failure to agree on the MFF in time would be very damaging. A positive decision on this multiannual investment budget will send the positive signal EU citizens need in these difficult times.

Thank you. I now pass the floor to Janusz.


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