At a meeting of the Parliament's Committee on Budgets on 9 October, EESC member Javier Doz Orrit assured the European Parliament of the EESC's full support in the quest for a strong Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021-2027.
Mr Doz Orrit, rapporteur for the EESC opinion on the future MFF, said: "We must join forces. Only in this way we will be able to convince Member States to provide for a budget that enables the European Union to tackle current and future challenges and to address the needs of European society". He emphasised that the European Union needed a robust and ambitious budget.
The EESC rapporteur was speaking during a debate on the Interim report on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 – Parliament's position with a view to an agreement. The rapporteurs for the interim report, Jan Olbrycht (PPE), Isabelle Thomas (S&D), Janusz Lewandowski (PPE) and Gérard Deprez (ALDE), set the scene for the debate.
Javier Doz Orrit set out the EESC's main recommendations on the next EU budget and reaffirmed the EESC'S full support for Parliament's call for an EU budget of at least 1.3% of EU GNI (gross national income). The EESC had already argued for such a budget during a debate with Günther Oettinger (European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources) at the EESC plenary session in September.
In its opinion, adopted at the plenary session in September, the EESC recognised the high European added value of the programmes that would benefit most from increased expenditure in the Commission's MFF proposal, but was concerned that the increases were at the cost of severe cuts in cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Both policies would need to at least maintain their current budget to be efficient, while a special programme should be introduced to help Member States implement the European Pillar of Social Rights.
At the meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Budgets, the EESC rapporteur also stressed the Committee's support for introducing new genuine own resources so as to increase their share in total revenue, thereby reducing direct contributions by Member States. He felt that the Commission's proposals in this regard would not go far enough. EU decision-makers should take on board all the proposals for new own resources made by the High-Level Group on Own Resources chaired by Mario Monti and by the European Parliament, in order to secure a sufficient level of autonomous, transparent and fair own resources. Mr Doz Orrit nevertheless drew attention to the complexity of making all these own resources operational in time for the new MFF.
The debate showed that the European Parliament and the EESC would like an agreement on the budget to be reached before the European elections in May 2019. Work on an agreement must be stepped up. A timely agreement on a robust budget would demonstrate a real commitment on the part of Member States to the European project and to citizens' needs. It would further ensure that important spending programmes could commence without delay.
At its forthcoming plenary sessions the EESC will debate and vote on several opinions concerning the Commission's sectoral proposals for spending programmes in the 2021-2027 MFF.