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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

17.12.10: EU's big three call for long-term budgetary restraint - 0 views

  • The EU's three largest member states - Germany, France and the UK - are set to publish a text on Saturday (18 December), calling for spending restraint in the bloc's long-term financial framework (post 2013). Initiated by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the letter will call for a freeze in the long-term spending plan, excluding inflation, and also seek to rein in the bloc's 2012 and 2013 annual budgets.
  • The move puts the group of large member states on a direct collision course with the Brussels-based EU institutions, already battered after their call for a six percent rise in next year's EU budget was cut in half by national capitals. With the commission not set to publish formal proposals on the multi-annual financial framework until June 2011, the EU institution may also perceive London's latest initiative as a move to undermine its right of initiative. Still undecided, the framework's period is likely to cover 2014-2020. It is then broken down into annual budgets. Poland and other eastern countries may also be horrified by the attempt to curb future EU payments of which newer member states are large recipients. But other EU members are also set to sign the austerity-letter, with Austria, Italy and Finland among the names suggested by diplomats.
  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso sought to downplay the letter's significance. "We know different groups of member states sometimes try to position themselves," he said. "What is important in the end is the commission's proposal that is being put forward [next June], and then the discussions on the basis of that proposal." European Council President Herman Van Rompuy was also phlegmatic. "If there are letters, we are very polite people, we read our letters we receive," he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.12.10: UK seeking concessions on long-term EU budget - 0 views

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing EU leaders in the margins of a European Summit in Brussels on Thursday (16 December) to support a declaration on limiting the size of the EU's future multi-annual budget (post 2013), diplomats have indicated. Although the budgetary issue is not formally on the summit's agenda, the UK leader is hoping to garner the support of enough member states in order to publish a letter later today or on Friday.
  • Mr Cameron is under pressure from elements of his own Conservative Party to limit future EU spending, especially as national governments implement thumping austerity packages back home. London recently lost its battle to freeze spending in next year's annual EU budget which is decided by majority voting among member states, unlike the long-term framework which needs unanimity.
  • A tie-up between the size of the future EU budget, Britain's EU budgetary rebate and funding for the common agricultural policy (CAP) is one deal rumoured to be under discussion between France and the UK. France is adamant that CAP funding should not be cut. Poland has been the leading opponent of attempts to limit the size of the multi-annual framework which is then subsequently broken down into annual spending plans. "What is the most important from our point of view is for the budget not to be reduced significantly, because we believe the funds flowing to Poland and other countries help us fight the crisis," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters hours before the summit.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

26.11.10: Progress in talks about EU budget - 0 views

  • A series of compromises and a new draft of next year's EU budget has increased optimism that member states and the European Parliament can reach a deal on the 2011 spending plan before Christmas. But parliament's call for a role in discussions over the bloc's next multi-annual budget (post 2013) could still scupper a final accord.
  • A day earlier, member-state diplomats agreed to drop previous calls for unanimity voting on decisions to transfer money between EU budget headlines. Parliament has made the greater level of spending flexibility, provided by member state qualified majority voting, a key demand in the ongoing battle over the 2011 EU budget.
  • Officials from all sides will next meet on 7 December to discuss the budget draft, in a bid to enable a parliamentary vote on the final version at its 15 December plenary session, the last of the year. Sources say Mr Barroso's announcement this week to come forward with proposals on EU 'own resources' in June 2011 has enabled both parliament and member states to claim victory on the controversial issue by breaking the link with the 2011 budget debate but ensuring future discussion on the subject. Now the parliament's demand for a role in discussions over the EU's post-2013 multi-annual budget remains the main outstanding stumbling block.
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  • MEPs insist they are allowed a greater say under the Lisbon Treaty, while national capitals have appeared reluctant to hand the legislature a greater role in the already complex negotiations. If decision on this issue is left to European leaders meeting in Brussels for a summit on 16-17 December, parliamentary approval could be kicked to an extraordinary session just days before Christmas. Total failure to reach a deal between the two sides will see this year's EU budget rolled over into 2011 on a month-by-month basis.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.11.10: Budget 2011 - the position of the European Parliament  in a nutshell - 0 views

  • MEPs are ready for an agreement on the 2011 budget within the limits set by the Council, provided EU governments accept Parliament's request for budget flexibility and an agreement on a future working method for EU funding. This was the message in Parliament's resolution on the on-going negotiations on the 2011 budget, adopted on Thursday.The resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority (486 in favour, 64 against and 21 abstentions).MEPs are ready to "facilitate an agreement on the 2011 Budget and related elements within a very tight timeframe" provided three conditions are met:
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.11.10: EU-Commission will put forward proposals as to own resources - strongly oppos... - 0 views

  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was cheered in the European Parliament on Tuesday (23 November) when he outlined plans to publish an official proposal on EU self-funding before the end of June 2011. A fresh draft of next year's budget is also expected before 1 December.
  • Parliament has said debate on the controversial 'own resources' issue is a key demand in the ongoing battle over next year's annual EU budget, but France, Germany and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy have all indicated they oppose the idea of an EU tax. "We will use our right of initiative to put forward formal proposals as to own resources before the end of next June," Mr Barroso told MEPs in the Strasbourg plenary chamber. "The proposals ... will make large endeavours to achieving a consensus in the future. We're open to any ideas," he added.
  • "I am against the introduction of an EU tax," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month. "I do not think that redesigning the way the EU get its revenue is a top priority," Mr Van Rompuy said a week later. Reacting to Mr Barroso's announcement, non-attached UK MEP Diane Dodds called on British Prime Minister David Cameron to clearly state that proposals for an EU tax would trigger a referendum in the country.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.11.10: EU budget talks collapse after MEPs seek new powers - 0 views

  • A last attempt to reach an agreement for the 2011 EU budget failed on Monday (15 November) due to reluctance by member states to grant MEPs extra powers in future multi-annual budget negotiations. The EU commission will now have to draft a new proposal, while the first months of next year will be funded on the basis of the 2010 budget.
  • The final collapse was mainly due to disagreements over procedures and extra powers granted to MEPs under the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new rulebook. Junior ministers from Britain and the Netherlands insisted that the only issue on the table was the budget for 2011 and declined to discuss contentious issues for the long-term budgetary perspective, such as raising more EU "own resources" through supplementary taxes or the "flexibility" of the budget when unexpected expenses arise. Shortly after announcing €95 billion in domestic budget cuts, Britain has spearheaded demands for next year's EU budget to stay frozen at 2010 levels or go up by a mere 2.9 percent, or less than half the MEPs' original request.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

03.11.10: EU leaders back 'limited' treaty change, budget cap - 0 views

  • Britain and other European Union countries put their weight behind Franco-German calls for tougher eurozone rules at a summit today (29 October), agreeing on "limited" changes to the EU's main treaty in return for a cap on the EU budget.
  • Officials struggled to deliver the message that legal tricks could accommodate both Germany's push for treaty change and conflicting calls from several other countries which had rejected the idea. Regarding treaty change, the key word is "simplified", officials explained. A simplified provision, enshrined in Article 48, Section 6 of the Lisbon Treaty, allows member countries to unanimously adopt a decision amending all or part of the main elements of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), which governs how the Union carries out its work. Such a procedure would avoid the need to call a constitutional convention, experts explained. In addition, the European Parliament would only be "consulted" instead of enjoying full voting rights as part of the normal co-decision procedure. The changes to the treaty are to be settled by mid-2013, before the expiry of the present emergency fund agreed earlier this year to deal with crises such as the one that hit Greece. The objective is to replace that with a permanent mechanism. The simplified treaty change procedure will not enter into force until it is approved by member states in accordance with their constitutions. Most EU countries are expected to ratify the decision by a simplified procedure in their parliaments. As for Ireland, it remains unclear whether a change effected in this way would require another referendum.
  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron appears to have been instrumental in forging a deal, lending his backing to Franco-German calls for treaty change in return for keeping a lid on the EU's 2011 budget. 11 member states, including Britain, France and Germany, will send a letter to the European Commission and Parliament today saying that their plans to increase the EU budget by 5.9% in 2011 are "especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure". The letter was signed by the leaders of the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Slovenia and Estonia. The bloc's finance ministers had earlier voted for a limited increase in the EU budget of 2.9%. "We are clear that we cannot accept any more than the 2.9% increase proposed by the finance ministers," the leaders say in the letter. Cameron argued that a planned increase in the EU budget would cost his country's taxpayers the equivalent of one billion euros. The 2.9% rise would still cost them £435m (500m euros). Parliament to fight back By agreeing to cap the budget, EU leaders set themselves on a collision course with the European parliament, which has the power to approve or reject the proposed budget. Negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council, which represents the 27 member countries, over the EU's 2011 budget kicked off on 27 October (see 'Background'). "If Cameron is prepared to give up the British rebate [...] then we can for sure discuss a reduction of the budget," said Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist & Democrats group in the European Parliament, speaking to EUX.TV, the European policy news channel powered by EurActiv. "The European budget is not to be compared with national budgets," said Schulz. "There are no own resources. We have no European taxes. We have no own money. It is money coming from the member states. We can make no debts. The British budget must be reduced because there is enormous debt. Europe has no debts," he said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

28.10.10: Buzek clashes with EU leaders over 'un-European' budget - 0 views

  • A compromise on the 2011 EU budget is likely to coalesce around a three-percent increase compared to this year's spending after a vivid discussion among EU leaders and the European Parliament's chief about the rationale of raising the figure when most capitals are being forced to cut their own budgets.
  • The meeting, which usually consists of EU Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek reading out a statement and then leaving, took an extra hour to wrap up, as British Prime Minister David Cameron intervened to counter the parliament's plea for a six percent increase in the EU budget. Roughly a dozen other leaders then intervened as well, mostly backing the British premier. The Belgian and the Greek prime ministers were among the few who supported Mr Buzek's plea.
  • He also underlined that the parliament is willing to compromise on the six-percent figure, as long as there is "serious talk" about ensuring future funding for the EU's old and new policies. The Lisbon Treaty, he argued, had created new tasks for the EU: "More responsibilities means more funds." "It is absolutely necessary to have a compromise and finish [budget talks] in three weeks and then we want to start a serious discussion about future funding of EU policies. This is about the future of the EU itself. When we talk about cuts, we also have to think about the cost of non-Europe, of not having the added value of the EU."
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

13.10.10: MEPs to oversee details of Ashton spending - 0 views

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    The European Parliament has won the right to look into the nitty gritty of spending in foreign delegations in the EU's new diplomatic service amid mild alarm over rising costs. The provisional agreement was put together at an informal meeting between MEPs, EU officials and member states on Monday (11 October) and represents an easing of tensions between the assembly and Catherine Ashton's office after a dispute over diplomatic appointments last week.
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