Institutional Affairs and EU Budget - Related Opinions
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This opinion is drafted at the request of the European Parliament, within the context of the two reports of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, namely: Improving the Functioning of the European Union Building on the Potential of the Liston Treaty (rapporteurs Ms Bresso and Mr Brok) and Possible Evolutions and Adjustments of the Current Institutional Set-up of the European Union (rapporteur Mr Verhofstadt).
The EESC is of the opinion that persisting imbalances as well as the creation of trust and confidence across Europe require more effective and democratic economic governance, notably in the Eurozone. It has become clear that the current system of rules underpinning the EU, and particularly the euro area, has created confusion on the legal, institutional and democratic fronts. A new approach is therefore needed. With this in mind, the Committee presents its contribution to the new five presidents' report which will propose next steps on better economic governance to the European Council in June. The EESC contribution summarises the different stages and puts forward institutional proposals and preparatory initiatives regarding the completion of the political pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union.
The EESC welcomes the Investment Plan for Europe as a step in the right direction, which however faces serious questions about the Plan's size and timescale, the high degree of leverage expected and the potential flow of suitable projects. The Plan proposes that contributions to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) from Member States will not be included in budget deficit calculations and this is to be welcomed, but it begs the question as to why ongoing strategic public infrastructure expenditures are not treated in the same way. Strategic public investment which underpins present and future economic development should be incentivised by a more benign European fiscal framework.
The Committee considers it vital to develop practical proposals for action to ensure that the various EU institutions act, within their respective remits, to frame suitable measures for implementing Article 11(1) and (2) TEU.To this end, the EESC put forward a set or recommendation which, on the basis of a monitoring and rationalisation of existing processes, could facilitate a bigger structured implication of civil society organisations. The EESC should help to organise, along with all other relevant stakeholders and the EU institutions in particular, a large-scale annual event that would offer shared input to the agenda of EU priorities.
The Committee reiterates that the ambitious challenges facing the EU make it not only desirable but also necessary to increase the size of the EU budget so as to revitalise economic growth and employment. Furthermore, it welcomes the moves to improve and simplify the structure of the EU budget, so as to substantially deflate the issues of fair return and horizontal fairness between the Member States, focusing instead on effectively achieving Europe's strategic objectives. The EU budget should be exemplary, efficient, effective and transparent, so that it gains credibility in the eyes of the European public.
The proposal for an EU financial transaction tax seeks to change the short term oriented behaviour of financial actors whilst at the same time providing an own resource to the budget of the European Union that could considerably reduce the contributions by Member States based on their gross national income (GNI). The second initiative is in line with the treaties and wants the EU- budged be to a higher extent be financed by own resources. This would also put an end to the ongoing "juste retour" discussions that jeopardises the European project. The EESC welcomes these two Commission initiatives.
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