The chairman of the European Parliament’s budget committee has set out ambitious aims for the EU’s next long-term spending plans — but acknowledged it will be tough to get backing from government leaders.
Jean Arthuis, an ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, said member countries should “recognize that they are no longer fully sovereign” on issues like defense and climate policy and pool more of their resources at EU level.
“If they recognize that they are not efficient on the national level, they have to agree to transfer a portion of their national spending to the European budget,” he told POLITICO in an interview, suggesting that if the EU increased spending on key policy areas then national governments would be able to spend less.
The Parliament will have to give its consent to the next long-term EU budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, which will run from 2021 to 2027. The battle over that budget will get under way in earnest next week, when the European Commission presents its draft proposal.
But much of the power in setting the budget rests with national governments, who provide the lion’s share of the EU’s revenue. They will play a major role in negotiations and must give unanimous approval to the final budget.
Arthuis, a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), is part of a newly-formed budget contact group in Parliament — consisting of the chairs of key committees and the heads of large political groupings — that will soon be negotiating with governments over the 2021-2027 MFF.
He said the Parliament will seek to persuade member countries that the budget should increase substantially — from 1 percent to 1.3 percent of the EU’s Gross National Income (GNI).
“We will try to convince the General Affairs Council to consider the requirements of the Parliament,” he said.
Arthuis argued that current levels of regional and agriculture funding should be preserved while spending should increase on new challenges like migration.
On the Common Agricultural Policy — France’s traditional sacred cow — Arthuis said he was in favor of reviewing the program to make sure it meets its objectives while keeping spending at the same level. He said he believed Macron broadly favored the same approach.
Arthuis supports attaching more strings to EU funds to push countries to uphold the rule of law and carry out structural reforms to their economies. But he acknowledged such conditions would be hard to push through when all member countries have to sign off on the budget.
“The reference to conditionality is rhetorical … There is a gap between the idea and the reality,” he added.
Arthuis said countries that violate EU norms should be “named and shamed” while Brussels should also provide incentives for national governments to follow the rules.
The Commission has urged Parliament and the Council to approve the budget before the European Parliament election in May next year. But Arthuis did not sound convinced that deadline would be met. “I cross my fingers,” he said.
By Lili Bayer and Maïa de La Baume | POLITICO Pro
Link to the original article: https://www.politico.eu/pro/european-parliament-budget-chair-sets-out-bold-aims-for-eu-spending/