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The Budget Committee considered around 1,000 amendments. Carlos Costa Neves recalled that at the conciliation meeting on July 20 Parliament and Council did not reach agreement on the amounts for international fisheries agreements or for the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In his view the unwillingness of Council and Commission to negotiate with Parliament before Council's first reading places a burden on the latest stages of the procedure. As a result, in the absence of agreement Parliament "will use its prerogatives concerning non-compulsory expenditure to the full".The rapporteur stressed that, given Council's refusal to contemplate a revision of the Financial Perspective (FP), the current ceilings of the FP no longer allow the legitimate needs and expectations of the EU's citizens to be met. Indeed, the strain now placed on the ceilings of the FP affects, to differing degrees, nearly all budget headings. Moreover, the Council's and Commission's approach of leaving "artificial margins" beneath the ceilings means in practice that programmes are being cut back in real terms while at the same time new requirements, for example justice and home affairs (JHA) and preparations for enlargement, need to be accommodated. The Committee believes that, to meet these new demands, fresh initiatives will be needed and all the possibilities available under the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) will have to be exploited.However, the Committee reaffirms its support for the reform of the Commission, while voicing concern as to whether the initial timetable can still be adhered to, in particular as regards the staff reforms. Mr Costa Neves therefore advocates a prudent approach: the funds needed for the 317 new posts requested by the Commission should be entered in the reserve and accompanied by conditions for their release (e.g. multi-annual assessment of the cost of the reform, reduction of the number of vacant posts, redeployment of staff to external delegation offices, etc.). The committee takes note of the "progress report" submitted by the Commission and underscores its intention to improve its monitoring of budget implementation. It invites the Commission to draw up - in agreement with Parliament - effective implementation plans for each spending programme, including performance targets and profiles for implementation over the financial year.The Committee is also proposing an increase in payment appropriations on a range of budget lines where the...

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