There can be no agreement on the Multiannual budget without the European Parliament
President Barroso put great emphasis on stressing that the essential point for the next Multiannual budget (MFF) is flexibility. He also expressed his support for the European Parliament's call for a real revision clause of the whole Multiannual budget.
In his opening speech at the European Parliament open Conference of Presidents, he said: "Indeed, as I also stated in the European Council, without proper levels of flexibility, the MFF as agreed amongst Heads of State and Government, can simply not work. The Commission considers that a difference of € 51.5 billion between commitments and payments in the next MFF can only be accepted to the extent that we have specific and maximum flexibility so as to be able to allow the Union to fulfil its obligations under the Treaty."
In the closing remarks of the debate, the President elaborated more on the critically important flexibility: "If I compare the present period with the next MFF the figures are telling. During the six first years of this MFF period, which are completed we have spent on average 122.2 billion euros annually in actual payments… For the next MFF period with an overall payments ceiling fixed at 908.4 billion euros the average level of payments can reach 129.7 billion euros. This is 7.5 billion euros more payments every year during the seven years. So of course most depends now on the proper solutions of flexibility – flexibility between chapters, flexibility between years."
President Barroso also noted and supported the European Parliament's call for a real revision clause of the whole Multiannual budget. "Given the uncertainties of our world and the fact that we are looking at agreeing an MFF for 7 years I share the view that a real revision clause will be needed," he said.
He also recalled the general Commission position on the agreement achieved by the Heads of State or Government at the February European Council He reiterated that the Commission would of course have preferred an outcome closer to its original proposal, but respects the unanimous agreement by the 27 Heads of State or Government. The Commission also welcomes that the basic structure of the Commission's proposal, as well as some innovative instruments have been preserved, the creation of a new Youth Employment Initiative and significant increase in funding for programmes supporting research, education and small and medium sized enterprises.
"The Commission will fully play its role to achieve the best possible deal for the 500 million citizens of the Union," concluded the President.