Mr Borrell's questions are motivated in part by the work of a Temporary Committee on the 2007-13 financial perspective, chaired by the President himself. The aim of the committee is to draw up the EP's own assessment of the political priorities of the EU for the period 2007-13 in order to define its own negotiating position. The MEP in charge of drafting the Committee's reports, Reimer Boge, said this week that he hoped the committee would have finished its work and be able to present the Council with its negotiating position by April next year. Mr Boge claimed that the European Parliament was in a strong bargaining position vis-a-vis the Council because the Member States had more to lose if there was no agreement on a new financial framework.

The existing Inter-Institutional Agreement between Council, Commission and Parliament, drawn up in 1999, expires at the end of 2006. If there is no deal with the EP to extend it, budgets must be decided on an annual, rather than a multi-annual basis. This would cause major problems especially in the Structural Funds area where the ability to plan projects over several years is crucial, especially for major infrastructure construction. Mr Boge pointed out this week that without a new deal compulsory expenditure alone would rise by Euro 2.8 billion in 2007 compared to the previous year. The Commission has called for a ceiling of 1.14% of EU gross national income (GNI) for the period while six net contributors want it limited to 1% of GNI. Mr Boge said: "If we revert to the Treaty, we end up with 1.09% of GNI so we go into this fairly relaxed".


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