PositionEuropean Union

"We need a budget which can be a catalyst for economic and social progress. The success of the Lisbon Strategy depends on this and requires action now, not procrastination", said Dalia Grybauskaite during her presentation to the Parliamentary Committee, the central theme of which was "swift and sustainable economic growth as a priority for the enlarged EU". She warned that if the reforms were delayed, "we would be in danger of compromising not only the Lisbon Strategy but the very idea of European integration, and plunging our people into pessimism and fear".

Greater flexibility.

Mrs Grybauskaite does not regard the setting of credit appropriations for 2013 at 1.14% of EU GNI, the keystone of the Commission's legislative proposals for the 2007-2013 financial perspective, as an intangible principle. "Choose between an expenditure ceiling of 1% or 1.4% of GNI? There is no point in commenting on that. We just have to know what our priorities are", she retorted to a question from Laszlo Surjan (EPP, Hungary). She thus skilfully supported the method advocated by the Presidency of the Council, which is keen to narrow the priorities of the new financial framework (see issue 2898) without aggravating the six signatories (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria) of the letter to the Council demanding a spending cap at 1% of GNI.

By contrast, Mrs Grybauskaite strongly defended the notion of "greater flexibility" within and between budget headings, which is also challenged by many Member States. This new "flexibility with regard to reallocation" would enable the budgetary authority to reallocate appropriations, within certain limits, between expenditure items. "That would make it possible to cope with new priorities without constantly coming up against the ceilings for the various categories", she explained to Anne Elisabet Jensen (ALDE, Denmark).

Prudence on own resources.

Dalia Grysbauskaite suggested that caution will be required when it came to revising the system of own resources, the outgoing Commission being due shortly to table proposals. "The existing system is satisfactory and should not be altered on the basis of purely political demands", said Dalia Grybauskaite, playing down the idea of a European tax. "This idea would be impossible to sell. The public simply is not ready for it, and nothing indicates that the Council would be likely to support a Eurotax unanimously", she said in reply to Jutta Haug (PES...

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