Q: What do the following words have in common: austerity, budgetary cuts and budget deficits?
A: Many people in Europe simply cannot hear these words any longer, but the Council thinks them crucial for solving the current crisis
Since the last Spring Summit (in 2012), about two million more people have lost their jobs, youth unemployment continued to soar, poverty levels have risen and in many EU countries the real economy is still struggling.
The feeling of discontent is evident by the numerous demonstrations against austerity that have taken place in Greece, Spain, and Portugal.
It is certainly evident in the results of the recent general elections in Italy.
As you know, the European Parliament has long held the position that budgetary consolidation must go hand in hand with investments in measures that will stimulate growth and improve Europe’s competitiveness.
Our position was reaffirmed on several occasions, most recently on 13 March, as the plenary adopted by an overwhelming majority (506 votes to 161) a resolution rejecting the European Council’s current proposal on the multiannual financial framework (MFF).
Speaking at the Council Summit, on 14 March, Parliament’s President Martin Schulz reminded leaders of the Council our demands for a long-term Budget:
1. We are asking for a budget that invests in innovation and infrastructure, research and development, youth and education. In short, we want investment in a sound future for the people of Europe.
2. We want a budget which plugs the gap between commitments and payments in order to fulfil the pledges made to EU citizens.
3. Flexibility between headings and years must be provided in order to ensure a modern budget that makes the best use of available funds, even if these fall short from covering all the priority areas set by the EP.
Earlier today (20/3/2013) Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, came to the EP to discuss the outcomes of the last Council meeting.
On the MFF, President Van Rompuy spoke about the need to return confidence and growth to Europe by examining where improvements can be made, and by implementing policies that will further deepen the single market, promote SMEs growth and fight youth unemployment.
In response to that many of the group leaders argued, quite rightly, that the Council have not fulfilled the expectations of the European citizens.
EP group leaders further maintained the position that decisions taken by the Council fail to answer the ongoing financial crisis, or properly address the socio-economic needs of EU citizens, because these decisions reflect inter-governmental, not European, concerns.
The bottom line is plain and clear, we need European solutions to address European problems. Without concrete plans to lift the EU out of recession and unemployment, we are risking losing legitimacy in the eyes of our citizens as well as our investors.
Finding these solutions in the next MFF is our best attempt to get our acts together and demonstrate our commitment to the European project and our European citizens.
Greetings from the European Parliament,
Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg
Picture taken from the debate today with EU Council President Van Rompuy, EP President Schulz and Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič