The policy debate proved to be an awkward experience owing to the procedure used and the budgetary discipline being championed by the Commission President, Romano Prodi. The Commission has for the first time applied an Activity-Based Budgeting approach (ABB), a method that will replace SEM 2000 in due course. The two procedures are supposed to exist alongside each other during this transitional year. The Commission is also planning to allow significant margins under the overall ceiling for the financial perspective. The total amount of funding operations should rise by at least 4%, whilst all items of expenditure other than farm market-related ones will increase by only 0.8% across the board in relation to the year 2000 Budget.By using the ABB, the Commission wants to introduce a stronger element of priority-setting in the Budget and improve the match between political activities and staff at the outset of the budgeting procedure. The Commission's objective is to ensure a clear identification of core activities on which it wishes to concentrate, and a better match between the level and structure of activities and those of human resources in the 2001 Budget.This aim has not been achieved, however, as not until next September will the Commission have a full assessment of the staff available, an assessment made as part of the in-house administrative reform.The Commission will not ask for additional posts at this stage of the 2001 Preliminary Draft Budget, except for the 76 new posts for OLAF (Anti-Fraud Office) which have been agreed in 1999. The Commission has decided to follow a systematic and rigorous approach: firstly it will critically review its activities. Then it will use all possibilities of redeployment within and between Directorates-General. Finally, the Commission will take into account the impact of the Commission's reform on its administrative architecture. Michaele Schreyer commented that "the Commission will take the right way by exhausting all possibilities to redeploy resources before asking for additional...

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