The MEP in charge of drafting the European Parliament’s position on the EU’s budget after 2013 is calling for the Europe 2020 strategy to boost jobs and growth in the EU to be made a priority.
Salvador Garriga Polledo, a Spanish centre-right MEP, says in his draft that Europe 2020 “can only be credible if it is adequately funded”. But he admits that in a climate in which national governments are imposing budget cuts to reduce deficits, the EU needs to work harder to justify its spending priorities and seek cuts of its own.
“We need to look at expenditure and policies that add European value and economies of scale,” Polledo says. But he fails to specify any areas, apart from administrative budgets, where cuts might be considered.
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On the contrary, the report he is drafting for the Parliament’s committee on future spending needs includes a long list of policy priorities for the post-2013 period, to follow the current seven-year financial programme. Apart from the 2020 jobs and growth targets, Polledo recommends maintaining a strong Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as well as bolstering the EU’s regional aid policy.
The Spanish MEP also urges persisting with major projects such as the Galileo satellite navigation project, and recommends that the EU stick to spending targets to combat world poverty.
Polledo’s report is intended to influence the European Commission, which is expected to produce its proposals for the next financial framework at the end of June. The committee is expected to debate the spending priorities on 9 May in Strasbourg with Janusz Lewandowski, the European commissioner for financial programming and budget.
But members of the committee are far from united behind the priorities proposed by Polledo. More than 850 amendments have already been filed to the report, expected to be voted on by the committee on 25 May.
Helga Trüpel, a German Green MEP, criticised Polledo for “sticking too closely to old approaches” in defending such policies as the CAP and CFP. “We are supposed to come up with specific proposals and not fall back on old ways,” she said.
Göran Färm, a Swedish centre-left MEP, urged an examination of what existing policies should be scrapped, for example export subsidies within the CAP.
The report recommends that the next multiannual financial programme should again cover seven years. Polledo argues that the ten-year period suggested by the Commission, while providing more predictability, would make changes in spending priorities more difficult. The report also raises the question of funding future EU budgets from “own resources” – such as revenues from a possible carbon tax, value-added tax or a financial transaction tax levied Europe-wide by the EU.