Multiannual financial framework
EP to put foot down on own resources ahead of June summit
By Gaspard Sebag | Friday 01 June 2012
The European Parliament is gearing itself to put its foot down ahead of the end-of-June European Council, where EU leaders are to discuss the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF). In a non-paper issued on the margins of the General Affairs Council, on 28 May, the EP’s negotiating team singled out the reform of the own-resources system as a condition for Parliament’s consent to adopt the MFF regulation. The aim is to transform this document into a resolution that will be submitted by the Conference of Group Presidents to the EP’s plenary, meeting in Strasbourg on 11-14 June.
Parliament, which has little say over the funding side
(1), is attempting to use its right of consent on the expenditure side
(2) to gain some edge.
The non-paper states that the EP “will not give its consent on the next budgetary framework without a political agreement on a reform of the own-resources system, ending existing rebates and other correction mechanisms, leading to more transparency, fairness and sustainability and ensuring the financing of the EU budget to a large extent with genuine own resources, as laid down in the treaty”.
Parliament’s position could end up being counter-productive, either by making negotiations on the long-term budget fail or generating cuts in agricultural expenditure, says a Brussels source. Certain countries, in particular the United Kingdom and Germany, have batted away the notion of new revenue sources for the EU budget or a reform the correction mechanisms. Progress at member state-level on both of these fronts, subject to unanimous agreement, appears highly unlikely. Thus if the EP stays true to its threat on own-resources, the MFF negotiations could end without an agreement. The other scenario the source mentions would see member states that have interests to defend on the revenue side making concessions in exchange for concessions of similar value on the expenditure side to balance things out. In other words, group of countries A could agree to ending or modifying their rebate only if group of countries B agree to slimming down the largest expenditure block: agriculture.
In its non-paper the EP’s negotiating team also insists on the importance of a “robust European budget” and “more enhanced budgetary flexibility both within and across headings, as well as between financial years within the MFF”.
It is not the first time Parliament flexes its muscles to get member states’ attention. At the end of April, EP President Martin Schulz said his institution is ready to throw down the gauntlet to all member states that call for cuts in the EU’s long-term budget. n(1) The plenary can only say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the implementing measures for the Union’s own resources system(2) According to the treaties, the Council adopts the MFF regulation unanimously after obtaining the consent of Parliament